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Dryopteris cristata (Crested woodfern)
Cressler, Alan

Dryopteris cristata

Dryopteris cristata (L.) A. Gray

Crested Woodfern, Crested Wood Fern, Buckler Fern

Dryopteridaceae (Wood Fern Family)


USDA Symbol: drcr4

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

The narrowly oval and twice pinnate fronds of crested wood fern spring in loose clusters. The 12-36 in. fertile fronds are larger than the infertile ones and only the latter are evergreen.

This fern is not fully evergreen as the fertile fronds become relaxed at the base and fall over, although the sterile fronds remain green through the winter. (Ferns of Grey and Bruce Counties)


From the Image Gallery

5 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb , Fern
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Size Notes: Fronds up to about 3 feet long.
Leaf: Dark Green

Bloom Information

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


USA: AL , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , TN , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE
Native Distribution: Nf. to Sask., s. to NC, TN, n. IL, IA , ND, n.w. MT & n. ID
Native Habitat: Wet woods; swampy thickets

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Mucky, moderately acid soils.
Conditions Comments: Though this fern prefers wet sites, it will tolerate much less moisture. Requires very little care.


Description: Multiply by rootstock extension.
Commercially Avail: yes

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Evergreen screening shrubs for New York
May 27, 2008
I need evergreen screening shrubs that aren't too deep. The shrubs are to be planted along an existing wrought iron fence, which is a few feet behind a children's swing set.
view the full question and answer

Possible ground covers under pine trees in Illinois
April 18, 2006
Have pine trees in front of house. No luck with the lawn around them....was told it's because of ground acidity. Any tips on how to get a lawn to grow there? If not, can you suggest some ground cover...
view the full question and answer

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:

Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1231 - Guide To the Ferns of Grey and Bruce Counties, Ontario (1999) Owen Sound Field Naturalists

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


Record Modified: 2023-02-07
Research By: TWC Staff

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