Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database

Northwest Native Ferns

Species of the Pteridaceae (fern) family native to the Pacific Northwest: Washington, Oregon, California and some Canadian Provinces

Adiantum aleuticum Aleutian Maidenhair
Adiantum capillus-veneris L. Common Maidenhair
Adiantum L. Maidenhair Fern
Adiantum jordanii California Maidenhair
Argyrochosma False Cloak Fern
Argyrochosma jonesii Jones' False Cloak Fern
Argyrochosma limitanea Southwestern False Cloak Fern
Argyrochosma limitanea ssp. limitanea Southwestern False Cloak Fern
Aspidotis carlotta-halliae Tufted Lacefern
Aspidotis californica California Lacefern
Astrolepis cochisensis Cochise Scaly Cloakfern
Astrolepis cochisensis ssp. cochisensis Cochise Scaly Cloakfern
Aspidotis Lacefern
Astrolepis Cloakfern
Athyrium filix-femina var. cyclosorum Lady Fern, Common Lady-Fern
Blechnum spicant Deer Fern, Hard Fern
Cheilanthes clevelandii Cleveland's Lipfern
Cheilanthes cooperae Cooper's Lipfern
Cheilanthes covillei Coville's Lipfern
Cheilanthes Lipfern
Cheilanthes feei Slender Lipfern
Cheilanthes gracillima Lace Lipfern
Cheilanthes intertexta Coastal Lipfern
Cheilanthes newberryi Newberry's Lipfern
Cheilanthes parryi Parry's Lipfern
Cheilanthes viscida Viscid Lipfern
Cheilanthes wootonii Beaded Lipfern
Cryptogramma acrostichoides American Rockbrake
Cryptogramma cascadensis Cascade Rockbrake
Cryptogramma sitchensis Sitka Rockbrake
Cryptogramma stelleri Fragile Rockbrake
Cryptogramma Rockbrake
Dryopteris arguta Coastal Shield Fern
Notholaena californica California Cloak Fern
Notholaena californica ssp. californica California Cloak Fern
Notholaena californica ssp. leucophylla California Cloak Fern
Notholaena Cloak Fern
Pellaea andromedifolia Coffee Cliffbrake
Pellaea brachyptera Sierra Cliffbrake
Pellaea breweri Brewer's Cliffbrake
Pellaea bridgesii Bridges' Cliffbrake
Pellaea gastonyi Gastony's Cliffbrake
Pellaea glabella Smooth Cliffbrake
Pellaea glabella ssp. simplex Smooth Cliffbrake
Pellaea Link Cliffbrake
Pellaea mucronata Birdfoot Cliffbrake
Pellaea mucronata ssp. californica California Cliffbrake
Pellaea mucronata ssp. mucronata Birdfoot Cliffbrake
Pentagramma Goldback Fern
Pentagramma pallida Pale Silverback Fern
Pellaea truncata Spiny Cliffbrake
Pentagramma triangularis Goldback Fern
Pentagramma triangularis ssp. maxonii Maxon's Goldback Fern
Pentagramma triangularis ssp. semipallida Goldback Fern
Pentagramma triangularis ssp. triangularis Goldback Fern
Pentagramma triangularis ssp. viscosa Silverback Fern
Polypodium glycyrrhiza Licorice Fern
Polystichum munitum Sword Fern
Pteris cretica L. Cretan Brake
Pteris cretica L. var. cretica Cretan Brake
Pteris L. Brake Fern
Pteris multifida Spider Brake
Pteris tremula Australian Brake
Pteris vittata L. Ladder Brake
Woodwardia fimbriata Giant Chain Fern

General Information About Ferns

The definition of "fern" depends on where you are looking. Ask "what is a fern" on Google and prepare to spend hours following the paths that come in the answer list. For instance, Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia says this:

"A fern is any one of a group of about 12,000 species of plants belonging to the botanical group known as Pteridophyta. Unlike mosses, they have xylem and phloem (making them vascular plants). They have stems, leaves, and roots like other vascular plants. Ferns reproduce via spores and have neither seeds nor flowers." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fern

The website for Wiki answers has this:

"'Fern' is a generic term used to describe a group of plants with common physical and biological features. Ferns are seedless, vascular plants that have roots, stems and fronds. They reproduce by spores and do not produce flowers like angiosperms."

And the website, About Ferns, returns this answer:

"Fern Plants will grow just about anywhere, if proper care is given. There is a species of fern that can inhabit nearly every condition on the planet. Fern plants add a nice touch to any garden. There are fern plants that are vividly colored and most will survive best in shaded regions." www.aboutferns.com/fern_plants.shtml

Species Information For Ferns

Click on links below for photos and details of each plant.

As yet, not all northwest native ferns are covered in this website, though that may be done some time in the future. For now, we have information about only seven of our northwest native ferns.

Adiantum aleuticum (Maidenhair Fern, Aleutian Maidenhair, Five-Fingered Fern, Serpentine Maidenhair): A deciduous, delicate, and dainty fern, growing from 1 2 tall. Strong, shiny purple-black stems grow erect and split in two, from which fan horizontal fronds of tiny leaflets, spreading like the fingers of a hand.

Athyrium filix-femina var. cyclosorum ( Lady Fern, Common Lady-Fern): An excellent deciduous native fern which may reach 6 tall. Spreading fan-like from their base, the fronds each form a diamond of feathery foliage. Select a sheltered spot to protect the delicate, yellow-green herbage from wind damage. Lady fern likes moist, even boggy, soil and shade.
Blechnum spicant (Deer fern, Hard Fern): A fine evergreen native fern, reaching heights of only 12-24." The low-growing sterile fronds spread horizontally from a basal tuft, while the fertile fronds are thin and deciduous and grow erect, directly from the center of the clump. The specimen at lower right growing in a private garden in Oregon's Willamette Valley is a fine mature example of this growth habit.
Dryopteris arguta (Coastal Shield Fern, Coastal Wood Fern, Wood Fern): A beautiful evergreen fern. Tolerating more sun than other northwest ferns, this species is found growing on steep wooded slopes or on sunny riverbanks along the Pacific coast, west of the Cascades, and into Arizona.
Polypodium glycyrrhiza (Licorice Fern, Many-Footed Fern, Sweet Root): A highly unusual, eye-catching fern to 2 tall, Licorice Fern grows directly out of moss on rocks and tree limbs. It is found mostly on Big Leaf Maples and Garry Oaks. Having an opposite dormant season, the Licorice Fern will dry up in summer drought, only to green up immediately with the first fall rains and stay green all winter.

Photo credit: J. Brew

Polystichum munitum (Sword Fern, Christmas Fern Sword Holly Fern): A magnificent evergreen fern, the Sword Fern is the centerpiece of the native garden. The long-time darling of flower arrangers the world over, Sword Fern is a must for every cut-flower enthusiast. Sword Fern forms massive clumps with fronds 2-5 in length. These perfectly symmetrical fronds grow erect or arch slightly. Large clumps can have up to 100 fronds and are stunning.

Woodwardia fimbriata (Giant Chain Fern): A very large fern with evergreen fronds reaching 4 to 6 feet long. In wet coastal areas this fern can be 9 feet tall. Natural preferences for part shade conditions, moist stream banks or boggy areas. It will grow in full sun if it gets enough water. It's a possibility for container gardens. I imagine one of these big boys in a large pot beside the front door. Impressive!

Photo credit: Ken Morse


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