Dryopteris wallichiana

Common Name: wood fern 
Type: Fern
Family: Dryopteridaceae
Native Range: Southeastern Asia, South America, Central America
Zone: 6 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: Deer, Heavy Shade


Best grown in evenly moist, rich, humusy, well-draining soils in part shade to full shade. Hardy in Zones 6-9. Winter protection is recommended in the colder parts of its hardiness range. Prefers climates with cool summers. Does not produce offsets, so spores are typically the only means of propagation. The foliage can become a bit dilapidated over the winter, and can be cut back in early spring.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Dryopteris wallichiana, commonly called wood fern, alpine wood fern, or Wallich's wood fern, is a semi-evergreen, clump-forming, perennial fern with a widespread distribution. It is found growing in cool, mountainous forests in Japan, Hawaii, Mexico, China, and the foothills of the Himalayas. This fern has a vase-shaped habit, and can reach up to 5' tall with a 3' spread. The emerging fiddle heads are covered in fine, red hairs. The sturdy, dark green fronds (up to 4' long) are generally lanceolate in shape with finely dissected, lobed pinnae (leaflets) and a dark brown to black rachis (mid-rib). These are typically solitary plants that do not form colonies.

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.

The specific epithet wallichiana honors Dr. Nathaniel Wallich (1786-1854) a Danish botanist and surgeon who lived and worked for most of his career in Kolkata (Calcutta), India. He collected extensively in India, Nepal, and Myanmar (Burma).


No major pest or disease problems. Deer tend to ignore this plant.


A majestic specimen plant that can be used in woodland gardens and shade gardens. Pairs well with hostas (Hosta sp.) and bleeding hearts (Dicentra spectabilis).