Connecticut Plants
Christmas Fern
Polystichum acrostichoides (Michx.) Schott

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

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

Polystichum acrostichoides (Michx.) Schott

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.

Polystichum acrostichoides (Michx.) Schott

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