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POLYSTICHUM acrostichoides

Image of Polystichum acrostichoides

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Dryopteridaceae

Botanical Name

POLYSTICHUM acrostichoides

Plant Common Name

Christmas Fern

General Description

Few hardy ferns offer the winter beauty of the evergreen Christmas fern. A native of the eastern half of North America, this forest dwelling beauty naturally exists on upland and lowland sites, so it will tolerate rocky outcrops and dry shade as well as moist, fertile stream side locations. Its adaptability and lush beauty make it an ideal hardy fern for woodland gardens and shaded rockeries.

The deep green fronds of this fern form dense, upright, radial clumps and are comprised of many simple, lance-shaped pinnae (leaflets). The narrow pinnae at the tips are fertile and their spores that mature by midsummer. Light brown scales line the base of the leaves. Older leaves tend to look ragged and should be removed before the new fronds unfurl in spring.

Christmas fern prefers locations with partial sun to full shade and fertile soil with average to good drainage. Any temperate woodland garden would benefit from the addition of this attractive fern. Wild populations occur in ground blanketing groups, so it is also an ideal groundcover.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Fern

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Shade, Full Shade

  • Height

    12"-18" / 30.5cm - 45.7cm

  • Width

    18"-36" / 45.7cm - 91.4cm

  • Native To

    North America, Northeastern United States

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    None

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Groundcover, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes