Dryopteris filix-mas

Dryopteris filix-mas
Dryopteris filix-mas 
male fern
SIZE/TYPE mid-sized perennial
USUAL HEIGHT 0.8-1.3m
USUAL WIDTH 0.8-1m
LEAVES deciduous broadleaf
COLOUR OF LEAVES green
LOCATION full sun to shade
SOIL TYPE any (acidic to alkaline)
SOIL MOISTURE REQUIREMENTS evenly moist (dislikes drought)
USDA zone (lowest) 3   (down to -40°C)
WINTER PROTECTION  
FOR ZONE 5+6 Code of winter protection zone 5+6
FOR ZONE 7 Code of winter protection zone 7
BELONGS TO CATEGORIES Ferns
náhled fotonáhled fotonáhled foto

The male fern is our native species, found throughout Europe and into the subarctic parts of the Northern Hemisphere. In smaller quantities it is also present in North America and Northern Asia. Available information about the taxon is somewhat diverse which makes no sense as the plant is not variable. Here are the facts based on our own experience.

The male fern is a tall, shuttlecock type of deciduous fern with long fronds of leaves and massive clumps, due to which it was named male in contrast to also tall but conspicuously finer-looking female fern (athyrium filix-femina). The leaves are bright green, upright, sturdy and reach 100 to 130 cm in ideal conditions. They are bipinnate and the individual leaflets are oval with small notches on the lobes. Dark grey spores decorate the reverse of the leaves. The plant looks very impressive and is suitable not only for semi-shaded perennial beds, but also to soften borders with small to mid-sized shrubs, especially among those with multistemmed framefork.

In both literature and online you can often find the information that male fern is evergreen to semi-deciduous. Perhaps in warmer parts of Europe but it does not normally grow there. In C.E. conditions, it remains beautiful long into the winter, and only severe frost or heavy snow will damage its leaves. So make sure to remove them all in spring.

This is a reliable species which, in the wild, is most often found in filtered sunlight under the canopies of tall trees. However, it will also thrive in the garden in full sun if you water it occasionally – it can suffer from sunscorch during dry spells. It is reproduced by viable seeds which often establish in most unexpected places such as crevices between stones and in pavings where moisture is retained. As soon as it settles in one place, it enlarges its clump which can be divided from time to time, since each of them has its own root. It is not demanding as to soil type or pH. It is very hardy down to approx. -40 °C (USDA zone 3), perhaps even more.

Last update: 10-06-2024
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Dryopteris filix-mas
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GLOSSARY
  • STANDARD QUALITY - Plants of this group are 1st class quality with number of branches and overall density adequate to their size and age, considering they were container grown.
  • DE LUXE QUALITY - This label guarantees a luxurious quality of manually selected plants that, compared to their height and age, are exceptionally dense and beautiful.
  • EXTRA - These plants are usually mature and bigger specimens with exceptional overall appearance.
  • STANDARD (as described in the plant form) means a tree with a trunk of 190-210 cm and a crown at the top, unless specified differently. The commercial size for trees is their girth measured in the height of 1m from ground.
  • HOBBY - These plants are of the same quality as our standard-quality plants but younger and therefore cheaper.
  • SHRUB - a woody plant with branches growing bushy from the ground level.
  • HALF-STANDARD or MINI-STANDARD - a small tree with shorter trunk, its size is usually specified.
  • FEATHERED - These are trees with branches growing already from the base of the trunk and up along the stem.
  • GRASSES and PERENNIALS - Sizes given usually read the diameter of the pot or the clump, as specified.
LARGE PLANTS over 150 cmspecimens, screening and hedging shrubs

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