Dryopteris cycadina

shaggy shield fern

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

Outstanding Qualities

Dryopteris cycadina is an easy to grow evergreen fern with a wild and prehistoric feel. In late spring new fronds emerge like a mass of reaching tentacles, dark green in color and covered in black, hair-like scales. As the fronds unfurl they reveal distinctively narrow, lance-shaped leaflets on either side of the black green stem. Mature plants form a broad, vase shape, each frond stiffly upright with only the slightest arch to the length. The botanical name is derived from its remarkable likeness to the ancient group of plants known as cycads.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: fern

Foliage Type: evergreen

Plant Height: 3 ft. 0 in. (0.91 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 3 ft. 0 in. (0.91 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 to 8

Flower Color: none

Sun/Light Exposure: light, open, dappled, or deep shade

Water Requirements: regular watering

Resistant to: deer

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: variegated, gold, silver

Great Color Partners: dark green, chartreuse, blue

Culture Notes
This fern grows best in rich moist to well-drained soil, but will tolerate sand or clay. Provide regular watering during dry weather to keep the fronds from drying out. This fern grows well in light to deep shade. Though it is evergreen the fronds will collapse in mid to late winter. To keep its appearance clean and tidy cut the old fronds to the ground in late February or early March, before the new fronds emerge.