Western Sword Fern, Sword Fern, Western Swordfern

Polystichum munitum

Family: Dryopteridaceae
Genus: Polystichum (pol-IS-tick-um) (Info)
Species: munitum (MUN-ee-tum) (Info)
Synonym:Aspidium munitum
Synonym:Polystichum munitum var. incisoserratum
Synonym:Aspidium munitum var. incisoserratum
Synonym:Polystichum solitarium
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Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round

Suitable for growing in containers


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


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:

Light Shade

Partial to Full Shade



Bloom Color:


Bloom Time:



Grown for foliage


Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

From spores

Seed Collecting:

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


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

, (2 reports)

Calistoga, California

El Cerrito, California

Merced, California

Murrieta, California

San Diego, California

Ukiah, California

Clifton, Colorado

Hollywood, Florida

Seffner, Florida

Tampa, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida

Des Plaines, Illinois

Brookeville, Maryland

Ashland, Oregon

Cottage Grove, Oregon

Gold Hill, Oregon

Grants Pass, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Conway, South Carolina

North Augusta, South Carolina

Houston, Texas

New Caney, Texas

Weatherford, Texas

Bremerton, Washington

Des Moines, Washington

East Port Orchard, Washington

Kalama, Washington

Kirkland, Washington

Seattle, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jan 9, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

Many references say this species isn't suited to eastern N. America. This species has naturalized in Pennsylvania, according to BONAP, so it clearly is adaptable to northeastern conditions.

The New England Wildflower Society has found that, at the Garden in the Woods (Framingham, MA Z6a), this species grows well until it gets set back badly by a cold winter. I suspect that the forms in cultivation aren't hardy here because they come from low elevations west of the Cascades.

Plants of this species vary considerably in their hardiness depending on provenance. I'd like to try growing some descendants of the Montana ecotype.


On May 3, 2009, anelson77 from Seattle, WA wrote:

A mainstay of dry shady parts of the garden in the Pacific Northwest. Looks great year round.


On Dec 23, 2007, jonaflatooni from Port Orchard, WA wrote:

Good solid native plant. A staple to our local forests. attractive foliage and hardy nature.

Have found the best aesthetic value achieved when you remove all mature fronds every year to every two years right before the surge of new fronds in the spring. The plant has no problem with the lose of fronds and it keeps the stand looking fresh and healthy.


On Mar 25, 2007, Cretaceous from El Sobrante, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

This fern is native to British Columbia, Canada, the USA (Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Washington), and Guadalupe Island, Mexico. Commonly available in nurseries locally.


On Jul 13, 2006, cramgeorge from Seattle, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

A beautiful native fern ubiquitous (and I mean ubiquitous!) to western washington, western oregon and british columbia forests, this fern is much hardier than mentioned here (i have seen it recorded as a zone 3 and up fern) Nonetheless it certainly has no problem here in drizzly zone 8b. It looks attractive in floral arrangements