Eastern Hay Scented Fern

Dennstaedtia punctilobula

Family: Dennstaedtiaceae
Genus: Dennstaedtia (den-STET-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: punctilobula (punk-tih-LOH-bew-luh) (Info)




Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 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)

Sun Exposure:

Partial to Full Shade



Bloom Color:


Bloom Time:



Grown for foliage



Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds

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)

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:

Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Mashpee, Massachusetts

Pepperell, Massachusetts

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Flat Rock, North Carolina

Cleveland, Ohio

Birdsboro, Pennsylvania

West Chester, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Nashville, Tennessee

Viola, Tennessee

Leesburg, Virginia

Orlean, Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Oct 19, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

Easy, tough, adaptable. One of the few native ferns that can tolerate full sun here (Boston Z6a). Requires good drainage.

This does not form clumps, but rather fronds spring up along a shallow, fast-running rhizome (it grows about 12" per year). This is a good groundcover for a big wild area, but it's too aggressive for the perennial border, where I'd consider it a thug. It outcompetes most other herbaceous plants, and is said to poison some through allelopathic chemicals.

Very easy to transplant rhizomes most of the year. I cut off mature fronds first and move foot-long rhizomes.

The fronds are a light apple-green but not yellow or chartreuse. They smell of new-mown hay when crushed or bruised.

Endangered in IL and MI.


On Feb 3, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

It is a fast spreading groundcover of very soft, light weight, bright green, bipinnate fronds about 2 feet high. It does smell like hay when one bruises the foliage. It is sold at some larger garden centers in the East and Midwest; not everyone carries it. I know of some wild colonies in French Creek State Park in southeast Pennsylvania near Reading, and Jenkins Arboretum west of Philadelphia has some big colonies. It is native to the eastern US, so it is only invasive in that it can invade the area of other plants in the garden by underground rhizomes and it can reproduce by spores to come up in other garden areas. I know of some appearing in an area under some Dwarf Fothergilla and through Common Periwinkle in a landscape.


On May 27, 2010, 48park from Pepperell, MA (Zone 5a) wrote:

In my Zone 5a garden, an attractive, low fern whose tenacity can be a virtue in the right location. I have paired this fern with spring blooming bulbs (tulips, daffodils and hyacinth) which it nicely covers over as it grows, and tall asiatic lilies and columbines that rise above later in the summer.


On Apr 10, 2007, Cretaceous from El Sobrante, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Native to the north-eastern United States (Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania,Rhose Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia,Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia).

Considered an endangered species in the state of Illinois.


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

Fragrant perennial, thus the name. Green fronds, triangle to oval shaped heavily-divided, lacy leaflets. Tolerates poor soil, but prefers a slightly acidic soil. Prefers regular waterings. Can reach a height of 30". Prefers full shade. Native to the Eastern U.S. Can be propagated by spring division of rhizomes or when it sporlates in summer.