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Christmas Fern
Polystichum acrostichoides

Christmas fern stays green all winter; the fronds were formerly used for Christmas decorations. It is common and easy to identify from the shape of the fronds.

• Family: Dryopteridaceae
• Habitat: rich woods and open woods
• Height: fronds 2-3 feet long
• Location of spores: spores on undersides of leaflets
• Stipe (leaf stalk): stout, shallowly-grooved, with dense light-brown scales. leaflets dark green, shiny
• Growth pattern: asymmetric clump
• Persistence: evergreen

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Polystichum acrostichoides



Frond of Christmas fern. The smaller leaflets at the top are the fertile leaflets.


Underside of a frond tip. The brown sori (spore-bearing structures) are very close together; it can be difficult to see the individual dots. The ruler shows inches.


Fiddleheads for Christmas fern emerging in April. Note that last year's fronds are still green.


Last updated November 25, 2005. © 2005 Connecticut Botanical Society. All rights reserved.