Polystichum luctuosum
Common Name: dwarf holly fern 
Type: Fern
Family: Dryopteridaceae
Native Range: Southern Africa, central and eastern Asia
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Heavy Shade


Easily grown in rich, fertile, humusy, moist but well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Protect crowns from abundant moisture in winter. Plants will not survive in standing water. Propagate by division in spring or by planting spores when ripe or by bulbils in fall.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Polystichuym luctuosum, commonly called Korean rock fern or Tsushima holly fern, is a small, clump-forming, tufted, evergreen to semi-evergreen fern that is native to slopes, rocky forest areas and stream banks in China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Thailand. It has escaped gardens and naturalized in parts of Florida and Louisiana. Lance-shaped, finely-divided, bi-pinnate, glossy, dark green fronds with black veins grow in shuttle-cock like rosettes to 12-18" tall and as wide. Each frond tapers to a narrow pointed tip and features 15-20 pair of narrow-ovate to oblong-ovate, spiny-toothed pinnae. RHS Award of Garden Merit in 1997.

Synonymous with and formerly known as Aspidium tsus-simense and Polystichum tsus-simense.

Genus name comes from the Greek words polys meaning many and stichos meaning in a row in reference to its spore cases being in rows.


No serious insect or disease problems. Crown rot may occur in poorly drained soils, particularly in winter.


Excellent selection for shaded borders, rock gardens, woodland gardens, cottage gardens or as an underplanting for large shrubs. Mass as a tall ground cover. Containers. Potted indoor plant.