Position: Dappled shade to full shade
Flowering period: Spores ripen late summer to autumn
Soil: Moist, damp
Eventual Height: 90cm
Eventual Spread: 60m
Hardiness: 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a
Dryopteris filix-mas is a semi-evergreen/ deciduous upright fern. Its mid green leaves emerge from a single crown are bipinnate and form a shuttlecock shape. Its leaves turn a copper colour in autumn. Its rachis (stalks) are orange with brown scales. Sori develop on the underside of the leaves, these release the spores in autumn. The variety Dryopteris filix-mas ‘Grandiceps’ has crested pinnae and terminal crests.
Dryopteris filix-mas, commonly known as the Male Fern, Common Male Fern or Worm Fern, is native to most of Europe and occurs in parts of Asia and North America. In its natural habitat it grows in damp shady areas including woodlands, hedges, banks and scree slopes. Dryopteris filix-mas is synonymous with Aspidium filix-mas and Nephrodium filix-mas.
The etymological root of the binomial name Dryopteris is derived from the Greek drus meaning ‘Tree’ and pteris meaning ‘Male Fern’. Filix-mas is derived from thee Latin filix meaning ‘fern’ and mas meaning ‘male’
The landscape architect may find Dryopteris filix-mas useful in damp shady locations. It is suited to naturalist woodland planting schemes.
Ecologically, Dryopteris filix-mas is a food plant for numerous insects.
The Royal Horticultural Society has given Dryopteris filix-mas their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.
Dryopteris filix-mas prefers moist, humus rich soils. It tolerates most pH of soil, although it prefers acid soil.
Dryopteris filix-mas requires little maintenance. Dead fronds may be removed in winter.