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Polypodium appalachianum is often confused with:
Polypodium virginianum Polypodium virginianum
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Pleopeltis polypodioides Form
Hemionitis lanosa Form in spring
Viola pubescens Form

Appalachian Rockcap Fern Polypodium appalachianum

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
pol-ee-PODE-ee-um ap-uh-lach-ee-AH-num
Description

Appalachian rockcap fern is a native evergreen mat forming fern in the Polypodiaceae (polypody) family.  Found in moist rocky areas and ravines in eastern Canada and the U.S.A. It can be found in high and low elevations and has an epiphytic habit in the Smoky Mountains. 

Leaves emerge in a rosette from a creeping rhizome and the plant can reach a height and width of 1 foot.  The dense mats it forms can help secure organic material, particularly on barren rocky surfaces.   

This plant looks very similar to Polypodium virginianum, but a key identifier of this plant is that its leaf blade is widest at the base.   This plant is sensitive to heat.

Use this fern in a native shade garden, along a rock slope, or in the understory of a woodland garden.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious problems.

VIDEO Created by NC State Extension's Homegrown series featuring Mark Weathington, Director of JC Raulston Arboretum.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#epiphytic#fern#slopes#NC native#deer resistant#rock garden#native fern#understory planting#food source herbage#bird friendly#mammals#Audubon#heat intolerant#heavy shade tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#epiphytic#fern#slopes#NC native#deer resistant#rock garden#native fern#understory planting#food source herbage#bird friendly#mammals#Audubon#heat intolerant#heavy shade tolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Polypodium
    Species:
    appalachianum
    Family:
    Polypodiaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern Canada and U.S.A.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 6 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 6 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Fern
    Native Plant
    Habit/Form:
    Creeping
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Soil Texture:
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Description:
    No fruits. This plants reproduces via spores.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Description:
    No flowers.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Fronds
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Oblong
    Pinnatifid
    Leaf Margin:
    Crenate
    Denticulate
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Lobed pinnafid fronds that are oblong to lanceolate with margins widest at the base reaching up to 15" long and 3 1/2" wide. Pinnae have entire to slightly dentate margins and rounded tips. Yellow maturing to brown sori are kidney or round shaped and found on all but the lowest pinnae.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Golden brown stems with whitish powdery bloom on the surface. Margins are toothed.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Slope/Bank
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Rock Garden
    Shade Garden
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Heavy Shade