Pioneer Valley Fern Society

2022-2023 Winter Ferns

#1 Christmas Fern

The first fern of our 2022-23 Winter Fern series is Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides). This is a common fern for our area, and probably most people know it on sight. From a distance they may be mistaken for Common Polypody, especially when growing on rocks. But on closer inspection the narrow fertile tips of some of the fronds, and the leaflets that can look like a Christmas stocking or Santa's sleigh are keys to the correct identification.

According to Chaddee (Northeast Ferns), it was used by early New England settlers for Christmas decorations.

Christmas ferns grow in partial to full shade, and common in the understory of many of our forests. We commonly call them "evergreen" but they are actually "semi-evergreen" since although they retain green leaves through the winter, they are replaced in the spring with fresh new leaves which develop from beautiful fiddleheads.

WIshing those who celebrate Christmas a Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays to all.