Plants of New Jersey # 14 Christmas Fern

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Christmas Fern

Welcome! Today we are going to discuss the Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides). Christmas Fern is one of the most common ferns found in the deciduous forests of New Jersey. If you’ve come across a dark glossy green fern as you wander the woods chances are you are looking at Christmas Fern. The fern is a member of the Dryopteridaceae (Wood Fern) family of plants. The wetland indicator status of Christmas Fern is FACU. This means that while the fern is usually found in uplands it may be found in freshwater wetlands on occasion.

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Christmas Fern in Wintertime

Christmas Fern is evergreen and brings a touch of green to the browns and grays of winter. New fiddleheads replace the old come spring. It’s name came from settlers using the fern for Christmas decorations since it was one of the few green plants around in December. Some say that the frond of the fern even looks like a Christmas stocking.

Christmas Fern

Growth Clumping Habit of Christmas Fern

Christmas Fern does not carpet the forest floor as some other ferns do. Rather, it forms clumps. The fern is found along shady and rocky woodland slopes and can tolerate moist to somewhat dry soil.

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