Dryopteris australis
Common Name: woodfern 
Type: Fern
Family: Dryopteridaceae
Native Range: Southeastern United States
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 4.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Tolerate: Rabbit, Heavy Shade


Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers moist, humusy soils that are rich in organic matter. Site in locations protected from strong winds to prevent damage to the fronds. Semi-evergreen in warm winter climates where fronds may sometimes fall to the ground after a first or second hard frost but still retain green color throughout winter. Basically deciduous in the St. Louis area. Cut back fronds in early spring. Propagate by division. This hybrid is sterile.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Dryopteris australis, commonly called dixie wood fern, is a naturally-occuring hybrid between D. celsa and D. ludoviciana. It is a clumping fern with short creeping rhizomes. Bipinnate, glossy, lanceolate, upright arching fronds with alternating bright green leaflets rise to 4-5' tall. This hybrid may be found in the wild from Virginia to Louisiana.

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 means southern.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Woodland or shade gardens. Shady parts of borders. Foundations.