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Common Polypody Polypodium vulgare

Previously known as:

  • Ctenopteris vulgaris
Description

Common Polypody is an epiphanic evergreen fern native to Africa and Eurasia that provides year-round interest.  The fronds grow from a horizontal rhizome and can be found in old walls, cracks in rocks, the bases of trees, in rocky undergrowth and on tree limbs. The leathery green fronds can grow to 12 inches long and have large sori on the undersides giving the upper side a bumpy appearance. 

Its preference is for moist well-drained sandy soils in partial to full shade. It is grown for the foliage and can be used under shrubs and trees, in the front border of a shade garden, as an evergreen ground cover, on slopes or in a rock garden. 

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:
Coastal Shady Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#easy to grow#shade tolerant#epiphytic#fern#low maintenance#slopes#year-round interest#deer resistant#rhizomes#groundcover#rock gardens#evergreen groundcover#border front
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#easy to grow#shade tolerant#epiphytic#fern#low maintenance#slopes#year-round interest#deer resistant#rhizomes#groundcover#rock gardens#evergreen groundcover#border front
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Polypodium
    Species:
    vulgare
    Family:
    Polypodiaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The root has been used in herbal medicine for many years
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Europe, Asia and Africa
    Edibility:
    Used to make nougat due to its sweet flavor
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Epiphyte
    Fern
    Habit/Form:
    Creeping
    Horizontal
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Gray/Silver
    Orange
    Fruit Description:
    No fruits but have large sori on the underside that are yellow to orange and turn dark gray when mature
  • Flowers:
    Flower Description:
    No flowers
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Fronds
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Bright green leathery triangular fronds are 4- 20 inches with 10 to 18 pairs of leaflets that get smaller near the tip and are off-set from each other. Margins are either entire or slightly dentate.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Naturalized Area
    Rock Wall
    Slope/Bank
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Rock Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought