Cyrtomium fortunei var. clivicolum
Common Name: Japanese holly fern 
Type: Fern
Family: Dryopteridaceae
Native Range: Japan, China
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest


Grow in moist, humusy, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Too much sun may bleach out the pale yellowish-green color of the pinnae. Good soil drainage is essential to protect roots from rotting in winter.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cyrtomium fortunei, commonly called holly fern, has fronds that resemble holly branches. It is native to Japan, Korea and China. It is an evergreen fern that typically grows 12-24” tall and features stiff, upright, dull green fronds (to 2 1/2' long), each with 12-26 pairs of stiff, leathery pinnae. Plants have escaped gardens and naturalized in certain areas of the deep South and Oregon.

Var. clivicolum (sometimes listed as var. clivicola) differs from the species by its (a) more compact size, (b) more lanceolate and slightly larger pinnae that do not exceed 12 pairs per frond, (c) pinnae color is pale yellow green, and (d) fronds are more horizontally arching.

Genus name comes from the Greek kyrtos meaning arched in reference to the fern habit.

Specific epithet honors Robert Fortune (1812-1880) Scottish horticulturist and collector in China. The infraspecific epithet clivicolumn means "living on a hill or slope".


No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to root rot, fungal spots and scale.


Woodland areas. Shaded areas of borders or rock gardens. Naturalize in the landscape. Containers.