Christmas fern

Polystichum acrostichoides (Michx.) Schott

Family:     Dryopteridaceae (Wood fern family)

Duration:  Perennial

Height:     30-75 cm (1-2.5 ft)


Species Present and Native

 Stem: erect and covered in brown scales diminishing in size as they move up the plant.

Leaves: fronds are dimorphic meaning that the fertile fronds are separate from non-fertile fronds.  The fertile fronds are longer than the non-fertile fronds and have sori on the top of the leaflets that cover the whole bottom.

Sun:  Part shade to shade


Comments:  It is unsure where the common name has come from but it is thought that it is derived from it being evergreen during Christmas.

Etymology:  The name Polystichum comes from the greek words, poly and stichos meaning "many rows" referring to its sori.  The specific epithet refers to the resemblance of the fern to a tropical fern called Acrostichum.  The Latin word -oides means "looks like".

Landscape:  As a gorgeous fern, it fulfills the landscape need of shade tolerant plants as well as a smaller size.  The glossy green color holds throughout the winter.  

all photos by Nathanael Pilla

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The mission of Save the Dunes is to preserve, protect and restore the Indiana dunes and all natural resources in Northwest Indiana’s Lake Michigan Watershed for an enhanced quality of life.

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