En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - August 04, 2008

From: Thornton, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Ferns
Title: Identity of fern-like plant in woodland garden
Answered by: Nan Hampton


what is the fern-like, hairy fleshy-stemmed, 12"-18" ht plant in my woodland garden


You can find native ferns that grow in Pennsylvania by doing a Combination Search in our Native Plant Database. First, choose 'Pennsylvania' from the Select State or Province option, then select 'Fern' from Habit (general appearance).

Additionally, here are four native possibilities that aren't ferns but that sound a bit like the plant you describe:

Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)

Lycopodium digitatum (fan clubmoss) with more photos

Maianthemum racemosum ssp. racemosum (feathery false lily of the valley)

Streptopus lanceolatus var. roseus (twistedstalk)

Of course, it is always possible that it isn't a native plant and, thus, wouldn't be in our Native Plant Database.  If it isn't one of these listed above or one of the native ferns, please send us photos and we will do our best to identify it. Please visit the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page to read instructions (under "Plant Identification") for submitting photos.


From the Image Gallery

Field horsetail
Equisetum arvense

Fan clubmoss
Lycopodium digitatum

Feathery false lily of the valley
Maianthemum racemosum ssp. racemosum

Streptopus lanceolatus var. roseus

More Ferns Questions

Container plants for part shade in Bee Cave TX
June 18, 2013 - Dear Mr Smarty Pants, I am looking for plants that will thrive on my covered porch in 3 tall planters. These are meant to help me block an unattractive view out my living room window, so they must...
view the full question and answer

Environmental factors that affect lifecycle stages of maidenhair fern.
November 07, 2014 - What are the environmental factors that can affect the lifecycle stages of a maidenhair fern, particularly A. trichorleopis? Thank you
view the full question and answer

Hanging plants for Austin, TX
May 18, 2014 - I'm looking for a hanging potted flower suggestion for Austin. Most locations are shaded under a large tree, but some locations may have several hours of afternoon sun. I'd love to see some hummin...
view the full question and answer

Starting shade-tolerant ground covers in New York
September 10, 2013 - Hi, I have seen some of the posts for shade-tolerant ground cover on the east end of Long Island and my question is process related. Now that I've identified the grasses/plants I need to keep my fro...
view the full question and answer

Source for ground pine plants from Ligonier PA
December 21, 2012 - Where can I purchase "ground pine plants? I want to use them for erosion control.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center