Polystichum acrostichoides

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Polystichum acrostichoides
FL 4056.jpg
Photo taken by Gil Nelson
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta – Ferns
Class: Filicopsida
Order: Polypodiales
Family: Dryopteridaceae
Genus: Polystichum
Species: P. acrostichoides
Binomial name
Polystichum acrostichoides
(Michx.) Schott
POLY ACRO dist.jpg
Natural range of Polystichum acrostichoides from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common name: Christmas fern

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: none[1]

Varieties: Polystichum acrostichoides var. acrostichoides; P. acrostichoides var. lonchitoides Brook[1]


A description of Polystichum acrostichoides is provided in The Flora of North America.


Dense colonies of P. acrostichoides tend to be dominant understory species in dense, mixed hardwood forests that are very shady and moist.[2] Associated species include Dryopteris ludoviciana, Thelypteris hexagonaptera, Athyrium felix-foemina, and Solidago flaccidifolia.[3]



In the Coastal Plain in Florida, P. acrostichoides can be found in hardwoods, gulches, deciduous woodlands, and mesic hammocks.[3] Associated species include trillium, Dryopteris ludoviciana, Thelypteris hexagonoptera, Athyrium, and Solidago flaccidifolia.[3]

It exhibits no response to soil disturbance by improvement logging in Mississippi.[4]


Flowers and fruits in February.[3]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

Cultural use

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Weakley, A.S. 2020. Flora of the Southeastern United States. Edition of 20 October 2020. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  2. Carvell, K.L. 1980. The impact of silvicultural practices on the density, height, and composition of the understory - with special reference to wildlife habitat. West Virginia Forestry Notes 7:17-19.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: http://herbarium.bio.fsu.edu. Last accessed: July 2015. Collectors: Loran C. Anderson, R.K. Godfrey, Angus Gholson, Wilson Baker, William D. Reese. States and Counties: Florida: Gadsden, Leon, Walton. Compiled by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.
  4. McComb, W.C. and R.E. Noble. (1982). Response of Understory Vegetation to Improvement Cutting and Physiographic Site in Two Mid-South Forest Stands. Southern Appalachian Botanical Society 47(1):60-77.