Polypodium virginianum

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: rock polypody 
Type: Fern
Family: Polypodiaceae
Native Range: Eastern Asia, North America
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 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: Rabbit, Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers moist, humusy, somewhat infertile soils that drain well. Can be difficult to establish, but once adapted will naturalizes over time into large colonies by branched, creeping rhizomes.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Polypodium virginianum, commonly called common polypody, Virginiana polypody, rockcap fern or American wall fern, is native to the eastern and central U.S. and Canada. In Missouri, it occurs on boulders, rocks, ledges and bluff crevices of sandstone, chert or granite, primarily in the eastern Ozark region (Steyermark). It is very similar in appearance to P. vulgare, and has been listed in the past by some experts as P. vulgare var. virginianum. This is an evergreen fern that grows in creeping clumps to 10” tall with erect to arching, leathery, oblong-lanceolate to triangular, deeply-cut, pinnately lobed fronds. Recent research indicates this plant is a naturally occurring fertile hybrid of P. appalachianum and P. sibiricum, neither of which are native to Missouri.

Genus name comes from the Greek name polypodion from polys meaning many and pous meaning a foot.

Specific epithet means of Virginia.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Mass or group in rock gardens, wild gardens, native plant gardens or naturalized rocky woodland areas.