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Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern) | NPIN
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Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Polystichum acrostichoides

Polystichum acrostichoides (Michx.) Schott

Christmas fern

Dryopteridaceae (Wood Indies-Almond Family)

Synonym(s):

USDA Symbol: POAC4

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Chistmas fern got its name because it stays green right through the holiday season. It is a robust, leathery fern which has glossy, green fronds year-round. The fronds grow in clusters from a crownless rootstock and range from 1-2 ft. in length. Fertile fronds are taller. The once-divided fronds with pointed pinnae result in a medium to coarse texture. The silvery fiddleheads emerge in early spring.

Christmas fern is very easy to establish and grow where conditions are right. It requires cool, moist, well-drained soil in shade. In the right spot, it can be a good, evergreen border or accent plant. Though often used as a groundcover, it is a clumping fern, not forming a continuous, undifferentiated carpet the way some ferns do.

 

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Fern
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Size Notes: Normally 1.5 to 2 feet, occasionally 3 feet tall.
Leaf: Dark green
Fruit:
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Not Applicable
Bloom Notes: Not a flowering plant. Reproduces by spores.

Distribution

USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: N.S. to extreme s.e. MN, s. to c. FL, e. TX, and Mexico. Zones 5 to 10
Native Habitat: Rich, rocky woods; stream banks; swamps; thickets

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Moist, acid, humus-rich soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Acid-based. Best in rocky or sandy soils.
Conditions Comments: Does not tolerate clay soils or standing water. It must have good drainage. Gets stressed in too much sun, becoming pale and stunted. It must be kept moist, cool, and shaded.

Benefit

Use Ornamental: Borders, accents, and groundcovers
Use Wildlife: Attracts Ruffed Grouse
Interesting Foliage: yes

Propagation

Propagation Material: Root Division
Description: Multiplied by division or spores.
Seed Collection: Not all fronds are fertile. Fertile fronds are narrower at the tip (which withers and dies following release of the spores in mid-summer).
Commercially Avail: yes

Mr. Smarty Plants says

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National Wetland Indicator Status

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
Status: FACU FACU FACU UPL FACU
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery - Orefield, PA
LAMTREE FARM - Warrensville, NC
Amandas Garden - Springwater, NY
Sunshine Farm & Gardens - Renick, WV
Enchanter's Garden - Hinton, WV
American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA
Prairie Nursery - Westfield, WI

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College, The - Valhalla, NY
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
* Available Online from Wildflower Center Store

Bibliography

Bibref 928 - 100 easy-to-grow native plants for Canadian gardens (2005) Johnson, L.; A. Leyerle
Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 354 - Native & Naturalized Woody Plants of Austin & the Hill Country (1981) Lynch, D.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
* The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Polystichum acrostichoides in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Polystichum acrostichoides in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Polystichum acrostichoides

Metadata

Record Modified: 2013-09-09
Research By: TWC Staff

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