Christmas fern,  Polystichum acrostichoides

Christmas Fern is an evergreen fern that may grow 2 to 3 feet high in a fountain-like form. The woods here never look barren as they do in many places, and Christmas fern is a primary reason why. It's fiddleheads emerge silvery in the spring and refresh the fern with bright upright fronds.

It is best grown in organically rich, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Crown rot problems can occur in poorly drained soils, particularly in the winter.  It can typically be found growing in rich woods, along stream banks, and in swamps, or thickets. 

This is a well-behaved fern that will not spread or naturalize, however its clumps increase in size over time and can be divided. In mass plantings, it makes an excellent plant to combat soil erosion. For more information..

Photos by K. Mulcahy

Sources:,, other authoritative resources and personal experience.