Dryopteris marginalis

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: marginal wood fern 
Type: Fern
Family: Dryopteridaceae
Native Range: North America
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Rabbit, Heavy Shade


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade. Prefers moist, rich, humusy, acidic soils with protection from wind.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Dryopteris marginalis, commonly called marginal shield fern, is an evergreen, Missouri native fern which typically forms a non-spreading, vase-shaped clump to 1.5-2' (infrequently to 3') tall. This is a woodland fern which is most often found in shaded crevices of rocky ledges and bluffs. Features grayish-green, deeply cut, leathery fronds (15-20" long). Sori are located at the edges or margins of the pinnule undersides, hence the common name. Rhizome forms an erect crown. Evergreen fronds provide good interest to the winter landscape.

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 comes from the sori being located at the edges or margins of the pinnule undersides.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Grow in shady areas of the woodland, rock, native plant or wild garden. Mixes well with spring wildflowers, purple-leafed heucheras and hostas. Excellent as a specimen or in groups.