Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database

Woodwardia fimbriata (Giant Chain Fern)


Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Division Pteridophyta Ferns
Class Filicopsida
Order Polypodiales
Family Blechnaceae Chain Fern family
Genus Woodwardia Sm. chainfern
Species Woodwardia fimbriata Sm. giant chainfern

Photo from NPS, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, California


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!

Native from British Columbia to California and eastward to Arizona though it is more prevalent along the coastal regions. Does well in USDA zones 8-9. It does not enjoy frost and may even die if it gets too much. If your area frosts up, plant this giant near a wall where it will be somewhat protected.

In the wild, find this fern in redwood forests, mixed conifer forests, and mixed conifer-hardwood forests, always where moisture is present.

Classed as Sensitive in Washington.

Old fronds can be cut off as the new ones occur from the center of the plant, especially in early spring.

Spores are plentiful in wet areas and the young plants can be transplanted. Divide clumps in spring.

Fiber from this fern can be used to make baskets, rope. The long leaves can be used to line the top and bottom of an earth oven to bake acorn bread and other foods.

For a short comparison of northwest native ferns, click here.
Contact:  star@chillirose.com ~ Copyright 2012 Wallace W. Hansen ~ All rights reserved