Christmas Fern Polystichum acrostichoides (Michaux) Schott    
Kingdom Plantae   >   Division Pteridophyta   >   Class Polypodiopsida   >   Order Polypodiales   >   Family Dryopteridaceae   >   Genus Polystichum   

Status:

Christmas Fern grows throughout eastern North America and is hardy and abundant. It has been documented in every county in Maryland.

Description:

“Lustrous, dark green fronds in circular, arching clumps from central rhizome" (Cobb, Farnsworth, and Lowe, 2005). Each leaflet has a bootlike projection at its base, which is a helpful i.d. feature. This species, which is evergreen, has sterile and fertile fronds, the fertile ones bearing markedly smaller pinnae near their tips, with sori on their undersides. After the spores have been shed in the late summer and fall, the pinnae that bore them dry up, while the rest of the frond maintains its green color. The dry pinnae give the fern a diseased look, but this is the natural condition of the fronds after spore release.

Where to find:

Christmas Fern is especially common on slopes and banks of streams.

There are 605 records in the project database.

View species at Maryland Plant Atlas

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Christmas Fern in Baltimore Co., Maryland (5/7/2017). Photo by Bill Harms. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern in Carroll Co., Maryland (6/18/2017). Photo by Bill Harms. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern in Baltimore Co., Maryland (3/11/2016). Photo by Kirsten Johnson. (MBP list)

A Christmas Fern in Garrett Co., Maryland (7/8/2012). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (5/19/2011). Photo by Bill Harms. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern in Howard Co., Maryland (4/20/2010). Photo by Bill Harms. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (1/29/2017). Photo by Robert Ferraro. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern in Frederick Co., Maryland (5/2/2017). Photo by Linda Lewis. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern in Howard Co., Maryland (5/26/2013). Photo by Joanne Solem. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern growing in Garrett Co., Maryland (10/27/2002). Photo by Boyer and McDowell. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern in Frederick Co., Maryland (6/25/2016). Photo by Dan Small. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern in Montgomery Co., Maryland (7/21/2015). Photo by Jim Brighton. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern in St. Mary's Co., Maryland (2/3/2018). Photo by Tyler Bell. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern in Charles Co., Maryland (1/16/2017). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern in Calvert Co., Maryland (2/29/2016). Photo by Tyler Bell. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern growing in Kent Co., Maryland (3/26/2016). Photo by Nancy Martin. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern in Montgomery Co., Maryland (4/12/2014). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

The sori of Christmas Fern in Calvert Co., Maryland (10/20/2016). Photo by Jim Stasz. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern in Calvert Co., Maryland (9/30/2017). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern growing in Prince George's Co., Maryland (4/8/2016). Verified at inaturalist.org. Photo by Timothy Reichard. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern in Calvert Co., Maryland (4/14/2019). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern (sori on fertile portion of frond) in Howard Co., Maryland (5/26/2013). Photo by Joanne Solem. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (4/9/2011). Photo by Bill Harms. (MBP list)

A young Christmas Fern with sori in Howard Co., Maryland (5/6/2014). Photo by Nancy Magnusson. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern in Harford Co., Maryland (8/28/2016). Photo by Kirsten Johnson. (MBP list)

Christmas Fern, shown growing on a bank as it commonly does, in Montgomery Co., Maryland (2/11/2017). Photo by Bill Hill. (MBP list)


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