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PlantFiles: Bladder Fern, Bulblet Bladder Fern
Cystopteris bulbifera

Family: Dryopteridaceae
Genus: Cystopteris (sis-TOP-ter-is) (Info)
Species: bulbifera (bulb-EE-fer-uh) (Info)

3 members have or want this plant for trade.


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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By trioadastra
Thumbnail #1 of Cystopteris bulbifera by trioadastra

By trioadastra
Thumbnail #2 of Cystopteris bulbifera by trioadastra


No positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral VA_GARDEN On Apr 11, 2010, VA_GARDEN from Hood, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

These little ferns always look wonderful in the early spring, but get pretty tattered and ratty looking by the end of the season. They also pop up all over the place, and can crowd out more desirable neighbors. Good for a shady spot where they can spread about, but don't turn them loose in your best soil unless you want them to take over. Soil on the dry and lean side keeps them in check.

Neutral Malus2006 On Mar 13, 2006, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

I am surprised this plant is not grown more often. It is similar to lady fern but tend to be smaller. I had it planted in my woodland rock garden because of its small size but had to relocate it after it drops lots of new ferns. The new ferns was difficult to weed out, as leaves snap easily and the roots held on tightly. It thrive in a garden setting, spreading rapidly to form a large clump even in woodland shade.

Neutral smiln32 On Oct 27, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This fern is native to the U.S. - The range in North America is from Minnesota through Ontario to eastern Canada and south to Arkansas and South Carolina. Grows in soil, especially in the north and on rock. Fronds are long, triangular and tapered at the ends. The common name comes from the green bulblets that form on the underside of the fronds. They drop off to grow into new ferns.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Plainfield, Illinois
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Buffalo, New York
Hood, Virginia
Ellsworth, Wisconsin

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