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Polypodium californicum
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California Polypody
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Polypodium californicum

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About California Polypody (Polypodium californicum) California Polypody (Polypodium californicum) is a native fern that grows in northern, southern and central California, primarily along the coast, foothills and coastal mountains. It tends to grow in canyons, streambanks and north facing slopes, at elevations from sea level to 4,000 feet. It spreads slowly by rhizome. In areas that are wet year round it may stay evergreen; in areas of summer dryness it will become deciduous. It is one of the more popular native ferns for shade gardens.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
1.5 ft (0.46 m)

Max. Width
3 ft (0.9 m)

Growth Rate


Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
canyons, streambanks, north facing slopes

Full Shade, Part Shade

Elevation ?
-66' - 7419'

Annual Precip. ?
6.1" - 122.0"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 3.60"

Coldest Month ?
32.0° F - 57.3° F

Hottest Month ?
57.9° F - 80.8° F

Humidity ?
0.29 vpd - 30.51 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates a wide variety of soils as long as adequate moisture is present

Soil PH
5.7 - 7.5

Soil Toxicity Tolerance
Tolerates Serpentine Soil


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 15° F

Sunset Zones ?
6, 7*, 14, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24*

Companion Plants
Use in a damp, shaded area with other shade-loving plants such as other ferns, Wild Ginger (Asarum sp.), Bush Anemone (Carpenteria californica), Western Dichondra (Dichondra occidentalis), Dogwood (Cornus sp.), Wild Strawberry (Fragraria sp.), Alumroot (Heuchera sp.), Ocean Spray (Holodiscus discolor), Currant/Gooseberry (Ribes sp.), Meadow Rue (Thalictrum sp.), Bee Plant (Scrophularia californica), and Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea)

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

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

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
1/week, Keep moist
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Common uses
Groundcovers, Deer Resistant

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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