Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Christmas Fern, Dagger Fern, Polystic Faux-acrostiche
Polystichum acrostichoides

Family: Dryopteridaceae
Genus: Polystichum (pol-IS-tick-um) (Info)
Species: acrostichoides (ak-ruh-stik-OH-id-eez) (Info)

Synonym:Nephrodium acrostichoides

15 vendors have this plant for sale.

30 members have or want this plant for trade.

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12-18 in. (30-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 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)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Partial to Full Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From spores

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 hczone6
Thumbnail #1 of Polystichum acrostichoides by hczone6

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By CaptMicha
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By Toxicodendron
Thumbnail #4 of Polystichum acrostichoides by Toxicodendron

By CaptMicha
Thumbnail #5 of Polystichum acrostichoides by CaptMicha

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There are a total of 30 photos.
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12 positives
5 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Rickwebb On Feb 1, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

This species is very common in the wild in southeast Pennsylvania in the woods. It is green during much of winter, though the fronds eventually fall down and are best cut away in spring. It holds up well to a fair amount of sun, but should not be in full sun all day or a really exposed location, and it tolerates a fair amount of dryness, and is a reliable plant.

Positive WexfordBob On Dec 30, 2009, WexfordBob from Wexford, PA wrote:

I have rescued about twelve of these plants from old farm road construction sites and replanted them under Pin Oaks in a mulched island in front of my suburban home. They look look great among the rocks and mulch as they sit in the summer shade and the winter snows. I am hoping they spread but I assume the mulching restrains that process. The bottom branches of the Pen Oaks are removed so that the plants get the morning (eastern) and evening (western)sun. The area is sloped so that rain and incremental water from lawn watering nearby that is not trapped in the rocks and mulch runs off the area. I could not be happier with these Christmas Ferns.

Positive headgardener111 On Jun 19, 2009, headgardener111 from Exeter, NH wrote:

Rescued several from a construction site 4 years ago. They survived well, lining two sides of a shaded path. Then last winter lost one whole side - about 12 plants for some inexplicable reason. Others still fine. Any thoughts?

Positive lnaslund On Sep 7, 2008, lnaslund from Jersey City, NJ wrote:

This is one of the few types of plant that stays green and healthy-looking under my big, water-sucking Norway maple. In that environment, it takes a couple of years to form a small clump, but it's alive, well, and attractive.

Neutral Cretaceous On Jun 27, 2007, Cretaceous from El Sobrante, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Native to eastern Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec), the eastern United States (Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Texas), and Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

Considered a threatened species in the state of Minnesota, and listed as exploitably vulnerable in the state of New York.

Positive bluespiral On Mar 2, 2007, bluespiral from (Zone 7a) wrote:

Ours is surviving under a huge silver maple with no artificial watering in summer dry spells; however, it self-sows over mossy stones in shade not so full, and is growing quite lush under an old apple tree where it is very pretty with white bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis alba). I think the difference in its behavior between the two trees is that maple tree roots are said to grow horizontally (certainly do here), whereas apple tree roots (as well as oak tree roots) are said to grow perpendicularly (as in straight down). I would not want to be without the evergreen presence of this fern in the winter garden.

Neutral ineedacupoftea On Apr 8, 2006, ineedacupoftea from Denver, CO wrote:

Although sources may say it is adaptable to high soil pH, I cannot vouch for it in my garden. It appears to have become chlorotic (even in different sites), compared to other Polystichum species.

Positive bigcityal On Dec 9, 2005, bigcityal from Menasha, WI (Zone 5a) wrote:

Nice fronds of course. Mine is not as big as I would like, but it's a refined looking fern.

Positive CaptMicha On Apr 22, 2005, CaptMicha from Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

A very beautiful fern of medium size found growing in moist, alkaline hardwood forests. That's atleast where the ones I see are growing.

They enjoy moisture and shade. This is one of your classic wood's ferns.

Neutral smiln32 On Jan 3, 2005, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Dark green fronds are lance-shaped and divided with holly-like leaflets. Although rhizomatous, this fern will not spread or naturalize, however clumps will increase in size over time. Best grown in organically rich, dry to medium wet, well-drained soils. If the soil isn't well-drained, the crown will rot. Requires more moisture in partial sun. Native to the U.S. - mostly the eastern portion.

Neutral tcfromky On Oct 7, 2004, tcfromky from Mercer, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Polystichum means: from the Greek polys, "many," and stichos, "row," referring to the rows of sori on the type species

Positive lorimaute On Jul 4, 2004, lorimaute from Springfield, OH wrote:

I planted two small ferns this spring. I placed them behind my garden pond. This area is moist and shady. I placed them there to give some color to the pond during the winter months. Can't wait to see what they do!

Neutral lizbar On Jul 3, 2004, lizbar from Montgomery, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I just bought my first fern and it was a Christmas fern. I repotted into a 10 in. hanging basket, it was in a 4 in. pot, so mine is a baby. Nonetheless, I think she is beautiful and can't wait till she grows. Do they grow fast?

Positive Toxicodendron On May 16, 2004, Toxicodendron from Piedmont, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

Christmas fern is very common in our area of Southeast Missouri. In nature, it prefers shady slopes with lots of fallen leaves. In cultivation, it responds well to yearly applications of composted manure. Even though it is evergreen all winter, I cut the old fronds off when I first detect the new fiddleheads emerging (because the old ones will flatten out and start to yellow after the new foliage unfurls). That is when I fertilize them as well. Quite deer and insect resistant, and more drought tolerant than other ferns around here.

Positive henryr10 On May 15, 2004, henryr10 from Cincinnati, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

We rescued several of these from a construction site several years ago and they have thrived.

Evergreen here in 6b.

They will slowly spread thru underground runners and spores to form a loose open circle dozens of feet across in the wild.

Very well behaved and very much treasured.

Positive suncatcheracres On Aug 7, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

This fern grows all over the shady part of my son's back yard in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. It was there before the house was built, growing in a small ravine, and once he installed a sprinkler system, it spread throughout the yard. It does stay green all winter in his yard in zone 7b, even under snow, and is a very pretty, medium size fern.

Positive SueP64 On Aug 6, 2003, SueP64 from Centerbrook, CT wrote:

Prefers shade. Slow to spread. Stays green all winter. Tends to grow in upright clumps in moist, loamy soil. Has naturalized in my area.


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

, (2 reports)
Tuskegee, Alabama
Wetumpka, Alabama
Morrilton, Arkansas
Centerbrook, Connecticut
Deltona, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia
Cordele, Georgia
Dallas, Georgia
Mokuleia, Hawaii
Plainfield, Illinois
Bloomington, Indiana
Indianapolis, Indiana
Jeffersonville, Indiana
Lawrence, Kansas
Saint Francisville, Louisiana
Brookeville, Maryland
Crofton, Maryland
Ellicott City, Maryland
Lexington, Massachusetts
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Water Valley, Mississippi
Piedmont, Missouri
Exeter, New Hampshire
Crosswicks, New Jersey
Jersey City, New Jersey
Southold, New York
Willsboro, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Thomasville, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Glouster, Ohio
Loveland, Ohio
Springfield, Ohio
Williamsburg, Ohio
Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Tidioute, Pennsylvania
Wexford, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Conway, South Carolina
Greenville, South Carolina
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Summerville, South Carolina
Kingsport, Tennessee
Middleton, Tennessee
Viola, Tennessee
Mc Kinney, Texas
Blacksburg, Virginia
Hurt, Virginia
Leesburg, Virginia
Newport News, Virginia
Penhook, Virginia
Roanoke, Virginia
Menasha, Wisconsin

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