Arachniodes simplicior 'Variegata'
Common Name: arachnoides 
Type: Fern
Family: Dryopteridaceae
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Rabbit


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-10 where it is easily grown in moist, acidic, humusy, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Best with constant and even soil moisture. This fern may survive winters in Zone 6, but often with a somewhat bedraggled appearance combined with considerable loss of evergreen color. Grow in protected locations in the northern parts of the growing range in order to help protect the evergreen foliage. Morning sun often works well, but afternoon sun is usually too much in hot summer climates. This fern spreads by creeping rhizomes to form a clump. It is easily propagated from rootball divisions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Arachniodes simplicior, commonly known as East Indian holly fern or shield fern, is a rhizomatous evergreen fern with bipinnate, ovate-triangular fronds. It typically grows to 1-2’ tall and to 1-3’ wide. It is native to woodland streambanks, crevices in cliffs, wet rocks, thickets, and open forested areas in China and Japan. It was introduced into South Carolina where it subsequently naturalized to form a stable population.

Arachniodes aristata and Aspidium aristatum var. simplicius are synonyms.

Genus name comes from the Greek word arachne meaning a spider in reference to the spidery aspect of the clusters of spore capsules.

Specific epithet from Latin mean simple or unbranched.

Common name of holly fern is in reference to this fern’s stiff, waxy, evergreen fronds which some contend resemble holly.

‘Variegata’ is a variegated form which features glossy, lime green fronds with deeply divided subdivisions, showcased by a showy soft yellow stripe down the midrib of each pinnule (lance-shaped leaflet).


No serious insect or disease problems.


Mass in the woodland or shade garden. Showy ground cover in woodland settings. Accent. Smaller plants provide interesting additions to rock gardens. Indoor ornamental in hanging baskets or containers.