Southern Lady FernAthyrium asplenioides

Southern lady fern is a 2-3 foot fern with lacy, broad deciduous leaves and is native to central and eastern USA, including NC. It is found growing in meadows, open thickets, moist woods, and occasionally in swamps. It spreads by underground rhizomes and will form a dense ground cover over time. The Genus name comes from the Greek athyros meaning "doorless" regarding the slowly opening hinged spore covers. 

It is easily grown in sandy or clay loams in medium moisture to wet soil in part shade to full shade. It does best in dappled shade conditions. It will tolerate seasonal flooding, and full sun only if the soil is kept constantly moist. Divide clumps in spring every few years to reposition crowns at the soil level. 

Use this plant as a ground cover for partial to shady moist areas in forests, along a stream bank, or at the edge of a woodland pond.

Sources:,, other authoritative resources and personal experience.