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Polystichum munitum (Western swordfern)
Cressler, Alan

Polystichum munitum

Polystichum munitum (Kaulf.) C. Presl

Western Swordfern, Pineland Swordfern

Dryopteridaceae (Wood Fern Family)

Synonym(s): Polystichum munitum var. incisoserratum


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

This is a "refined" fern with a massive clump of 3-5 ft., dark-green fronds that resemble a palm tree top cut off. The fronds are evergreen and occur in clumps of 75-100.


From the Image Gallery

3 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb , Fern
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Size Notes: Fronds up to about 5 feet long.
Leaf: Dark Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Not Applicable
Bloom Notes: Non-flowering, sporulating plant.


USA: AK , CA , ID , MT , OR , SD , WA
Canada: BC , MB
Native Distribution: CA coast, n. to AK & to n.w. MT
Native Habitat: Damp conifer woods below 2500 ft.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Various moist soils but tolerates dry conditions.
Conditions Comments: This fern is deer proof. It transplants well and lends a look of lushness to the woodland garden. Looks best planted in groups or drifts.


Conspicuous Flowers: yes


Description: Spores. It will spread well on it's own but plants can be divided in fall.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

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 Organizations Directory

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

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 928 - 100 easy-to-grow native plants for Canadian gardens (2005) Johnson, L.; A. Leyerle

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2022-12-06
Research By: TWC Staff

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