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that you heard more about what is most likely the most indestructible
fern in the world, the "Christmas Fern". Known in Latin circles
as Polystichum acrostichoides, here's an evergreen native fern
that can take almost anything you can throw at it. This is a native fern
that can be found growing naturally in every state east of the Rocky
I'll share what my buddy, Dr. Gerald Klingaman of the University of Arkansas has to say about this durable plant:
"The association with Christmas is an old one, for the fronds were once harvested by the tons, baled into bundles and sold to florists for wreath making. We no longer rely on evergreen ferns for wreaths. Now we’ve got plastic!
The Christmas fern grows to about 18 inches tall and wide with all of the fronds emerging from a central crown. As the plant ages, it produces more fronds, but the usual number is about 20 on the typical plant. Given good growing conditions, plants produce many more fronds than you'll see in the wild. The base of the frond and the central crown is covered with brown scales.
The fronds are pinnately compound, meaning there is a central axis with the individual leaflets (pinnae in fern lingo), produced at right angles down its length. The pinnae are to 2 inches long, but get proportionally smaller as you move down the midrib. Typical pinnae have a thumb-like lobe at the top, giving it a mitten-like appearance. Some see a Christmas stocking in outline, but they are wrong. It’s a mitten.
About two-thirds of the way down the length of the frond, the pinnae get abruptly smaller. These are the spore-bearing pinnae that, on the under surface, have two rows of spore dots down their length. Under magnification these sori – the name used by fern experts – produce a number of curled, snail-like cases.
While Christmas Ferns are evergreen, their fronds are not immortal. In early spring, just as new fronds begin to uncurl, the old fronds wither away. They'll always look GREAT in your garden.
There are several other reasons that Polystichum acrostichoides has ended up with the common name of "Christmas Fern". One of them is because of its evergreen nature. But my two favorite reasons, and I never miss an opportunity to demonstrate to folks on hikes that I lead, are that when you pull off a single leaflet (pinnae) and hold it horizontally, it looks like Santa standing up on the back of his sled and if you hold it vertically, it resembles a Christmas stocking or what Dr Klingaman envisions as a mitten.
These long lived plants are so tough that you can transplant them almost any time that the ground isn't frozen! They're also hardy from zones 3 - 10. They prefer light to full shade, although in most northern states can take a lot of sun. The richer the soil, the larger they grow, but I've seen them quite happy in dry, shaley, poor soil.
What I'm offering you here are 5 year old, huge plants, not our usual 2" pots. They're shipped bareroot and are very easy to establish.
The prices shown below include FREE SHIPPING on bareroot plants out of their 2" pots. If you would like to receive the plants undisturbed, in their pots, please add .95¢ per plant to cover the extra cost of shipping soil and pots.
At these reasonable prices, you can afford to naturalize a great drift of evergreen ferns in your garden.
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Copyright © Barry Glick 1996-2014. All Rights Reserved.
Barry Glick, Sunshine Farm and Gardens
696 Glicks Rd, Renick, WV 24966, USA
Phone: (304) 497-2208
Last modified February 24, 2009