Athyrium niponicum 'Crested Surf'

First Year Planting
Common Name: Japanese painted fern 
Type: Fern
Family: Athyriaceae
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 1.75 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 2.50 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Rabbit, Heavy Shade


Easily grown in humusy, organically rich, moist, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Soil must not be allowed to dry out. Best sited in locations sheltered from strong winds. Plants will naturalize by short, branching rhizomes to form colonies in optimum growing conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Athyrium niponicum is a rhizomatous, deciduous fern with an arching habit that typically grows to 20” tall. It features a slowly spreading clump of bipinnate, medium green fronds with oval to lance-shaped toothed leaflets. Midribs and pinnae bases are tinged with red.

Genus name comes from Greek athyros meaning "doorless" in reference to the slowly opening hinged indusia (spore covers).

Specific epithet means Japanese.

'Crested Surf' is a selection of Japanese painted fern that features doubly branched or crested frond tips. Mature clumps are slightly larger than the species, reaching up to 2' tall and spreading to fill a 2.5' area. The leaflets are tinged with red and silver.


No serious insect or disease problems. Rabbits tend to avoid this plant.


Woodland gardens, shade gardens or shaded border fronts. Also effective in shaded areas along streams or ponds.