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Male Fern
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Dryopteris filix-mas

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About Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas) Dryopteris filix-mas (Common Male Fern or Male Fern) is one of the most common ferns of the temperate Northern Hemisphere, occurring throughout much of Europe, Asia, and North America. It favours damp shaded areas and is common in the understory of woodlands, but is also found in shady places on hedge-banks, rocks, and screes. It is much less abundant in North America than in Europe. The half-evergreen leaves have an upright habit and reach a maximum length of 1.5 meter, with a single crown on each rootstock. The bipinnate leaves consist of 20-35 pinnae on each side of the rachis. The leaves taper at both ends, with the basal pinnae about half the length of the middle pinnae. The pinules are rather blunt and equally lobed all around. The stalks are covered with orange-brown scales. On the abaxial surface of the mature blade 5 to 6 sori develop in two rows. When the spores ripen in August to November, the indusium starts to shrivel, leading to the release of the spores.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
2.3 ft (0.7 m)


Native Status
Natural Setting
Site Type
Granitic cliffs


Elevation ?
15' - 13242'

Annual Precip. ?
12.8" - 53.6"

Summer Precip. ?
0.26" - 2.63"

Coldest Month ?
21.8° F - 55.5° F

Hottest Month ?
39.1° F - 73.5° F

Humidity ?
0.84 vpd - 22.25 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerant of a variety of garden soils as long as sufficient moisture is available

Fast, Medium, Slow

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Low, Moderate - High
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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