Polypodium polypodioides
Common Name: Resurrection fern 
Type: Fern
Family: Polypodiaceae
Native Range: Americas, South Africa
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: High
Tolerate: Rabbit


Grow in moist shady areas. Can be difficult to establish. This fern must be sited in a protected location in the St. Louis area where it is marginally winter hardy.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Polypodium polypodioides, commonly called resurrection fern or gray polypody, will brown up and curl in dry weather to the point where it appears to be dead. After a rain storm, it will uncurl and green up (resurrect itself) until dry weather returns. This is a terrestrial or epiphytic fern that is native from Maryland to Kansas south to Florida, Texas and tropical America. In Missouri, it is found in the southern part of the state, primarily growing (1) on tree trunks and limbs in swampy bootheel areas, (2) on trees along streams in the far southern counties and (3) on mossy or chert ledges or boulders in the Ozarks (Steyermark). This fern is epiphytic in that it grows on tree trunks (e.g., live oaks, cypresses, magnolias and elms) without receiving any food or water from the tree. It is also epipetric in that it will grow on rock. Nutrients are received from air, water and the outer surfaces on which the fern grows. This is a semi-evergreen fern with a long-creeping rhizome that grows in a clump to 12” tall. It has lance-shaped fronds (4-8” long), with each frond having 8-14 pairs of oblong pinnae (each to 1/8” wide). It reproduces by spores. It is somewhat similar to Polypodium virginianum. Synonymous with Pleopeltis polypodioides.

Genus name comes from the Greek name polypodion from polys meaning many and pous meaning a foot.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Interesting fern that may be grown in shaded sites such as on tree trunks, fallen logs, old stumps, ledges or rocks. Also will grow on fence posts or buildings. May be planted in the ground between rocks. Unfortunately its ornamental features are often absent, resurrecting themselves only after rain storms.