Dryopteris clintoniana

Common Name: Clinton's wood fern 
Type: Fern
Family: Dryopteridaceae
Native Range: Northeastern North America
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Tolerate: Rabbit, Heavy Shade


Easily grown in average, medium to wet soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers moist, humusy soils that are rich in organic matter. Do not let soils dry out. Site in a location sheltered from strong winds to protect the fronds. Plants slowly spread by short creeping rhizomes.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Dryopteris clintoniana, commonly called Clinton’s wood fern, is a semi-evergreen fern that is native to swamps and moist woodland areas in northeastern North America. It is reportedly a fertile hybrid between D. goldiana and D. cristata , sharing characteristics of both species. It typically grows in an irregular clump to 2-4’ tall with pinnate-pinnatifid fronds, each having 14-16 pairs of pinnae above the triangular basal pinnae. Its fertile fronds are deciduous and typically taller, more upright but thinner than the sterile fronds. Sterile fronds are evergreen to semi-evergreen in winter. Some confusion exists over nomenclature for this plant. It is generally considered synonymous with D. cristata var. clintoniana .

Genus name from Greek dryas meaning oak and pteris meaning fern in reference to the presence of some species of wood ferns in woodland areas populated with oaks.

Specific epithet honors George William Clinton (1807-1885), founder and developer of the Clinton Herbarium in Buffalo, New York.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Moist woodland or shade gardens.