Dryopteris cycadina
Common Name: wood fern 
Type: Fern
Family: Dryopteridaceae
Native Range: China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 1.50 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 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 fertile, moist, humusy loams that are rich in organic matter. Best with consistent moisture. Soils should not be allowed to dry out. Site in locations protected from strong winds to prevent damage to the fronds. Tolerant of high humidity. Fronds are evergreen to semi-evergreen in mild winter climates, but deciduous in the St. Louis area. Where deciduous, the old fronds should be cut off in late winter prior to the emergence of the new growth. Propagate by division or spores.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Dryopteris cycadina, commonly called wood fern or shaggy wood fern, is native to mountain slopes (usually in forests) in northern India, China, Taiwan and Japan. This is a semi-evergreen to deciduous, vase-shaped fern with short creeping rhizomes. It typically grows to 18-36" tall and as wide. Stiff, leathery, upright, 1-pinnate, dark green blades (fronds) with little arch appear in an attractive shuttlecock arrangement. Each frond is covered with 20-30 pairs of narrow lance-shaped pinnae (leaflets). The stipe and rachis are covered with black hair-like scales, thus appearing near black in contrast to the green leaflets. Sori (fruit dots) appear on the leaflets.

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 is in reference to the resemblance of this fern to the cycads.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Excellent fern for woodland or shade gardens. Containers, borders, rock gardens. Grow along shaded walls or buildings. Mass in shaded areas.