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Deer Fern
Blechnum spicant

About Deer Fern (Blechnum spicant) Blechnum spicant is a species of fern within its own family (Blechnaceae) known by the common name Deer Fern. It is native to Europe and western North America. In California it is found primarily along the coast from Santa Cruz northward. It is found is damp, shaded forest areas such as Redwood Forest and Mixed Evergreen Forest. Like some other Blechnum species it has two types of leaves. The sterile leaves have flat, wavy-margined leaflets 5 to 8 millimeters wide and arch gracefully, while the fertile leaves stand upright and have much narrower leaflets, each with two thick rows of sori on the underside. It typically goes dormant in winter. This is a very popular garden fern that can be used in coastal southern California if given shade, water and not too much heat.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
2 - 3.5 ft (0.6 - 1.1 m)

Max. Width
2 ft (0.6 m)

Upright, Fountain


Growth Rate

Winter Deciduous

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Moist places in old growth forests, woodlands and wetlands below 3,000 ft.

Shade, Part Shade

Elevation ?
9' - 4630'

Annual Precip. ?
28.9" - 115.0"

Summer Precip. ?
0.29" - 3.43"

Coldest Month ?
39.8° F - 50.0° F

Hottest Month ?
58.0° F - 72.5° F

Humidity ?
0.01 vpd - 21.03 vpd

Soil Description
Prefers rich, forest soil with well-decomposed organic component derived from decaying wood. For garden purposes add redwood compost to soil mix.


Sunset Zones ?
4*, 5*, 6, 7, 14, 15, 16*, 17*, 18, 19, 24

Companion Plants
Landscaping Information
Water Requirement ?
Moderate - High
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Very Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Deep Organic

Cut back dead fronds in late winter or early spring before new growth emerges.

Common uses
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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