Dryopteris filix-mas - Male fern

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Male fern
Dryopteris filix-mas

Long, leathery fronds uniquely taper at the end and again at the base.  Fronds start out a light yellowish green then darken over the summer to rich green and are perfect for massing in shade. Fronds remain green during winter but fade just in time for new fiddlehead growth to emerge in spring. Easily grown in average, medium moisture soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers consistently moist, humusy soils rich in organic matter. Soils should not be allowed to dry out. Site in locations protected from strong winds to prevent damage to the fronds.


  • Drought tolerant when grown in full shade
  • Provides year-round cover for native birds
  • Perfect for massing in any shade garden
  • Native wildlife use it for hiding from predators
  • Great texture from uniquely shaped fronds

Native Range

The entire US except for the southeast states and great plains states.

Map Credit: The Biota of North America 
Map Key: Green (native), Teal (native, adventive), Blue (present), Yellow (present & rare), Red (extinct)


Ferns lighten the darkness of shade gardens and woodlands while projecting a feeling of lushness. In addition to their ability to tolerate both shade and drought, ferns provide essential cover for native birds and other wildlife from predators.



Water regularly until the plants become established. Cut back old fronds after new growth begins in spring.


Mature Size: 2-4ft. Tall x 2-4ft. Wide

Hardiness Zone: 4-8

Sun Exposure: Part Shade to Full Shade

Coming Soon!

    American Beauties Offer Solution Based Plant Collections to Help you Choose

    Quick Tips for Choosing Plants:

    • Planting a variety of native trees, shrubs, perennials and vines increases biodiversity and gives wildlife a source for food, cover and nesting
    • Choose a mixture of deciduous and evergreen trees so birds and other wildlife will always be able to find shelter
    • Plant trees and large shrubs where they will block winter winds from the house and shade it in summer, that will save energy and lower your carbon footprint
    • Try your best to buy plants that were grown locally, your independent garden center will be your best bet
    • Think about ultimate height and width of the plant you choose, make sure it will fit the space you have for it when it's reached maturity
    • Plant nectar plants in groups, to attract butterflies and other beneficial insects more easily
    • Ask for help if you need it. Most garden centers either have a landscape designer on staff or they can give you a reference of a designer that is adept at native plant wildlife gardening. There will be upfront costs but they are small when compared to having to redo a landscape that wasn't what you really wanted

    Our Plant Tags Hold the Secrets to Success

    Choosing the right plants for your garden can seem like a daunting task but we’re here to help. Our horticulturists have spent a considerable amount of time researching and writing our beautiful, American Beauties plant tags to help you be successful. First of all, when you see an American Beauties branded pot at your garden center you can be confident that the plant is native to your area and a responsible choice. 

    When you look at our tag you’ll find information about the plants natural habitat. That will give you a clue to how it will work in your backyard. For instance if the plant is naturally founded and moist, shade and you have full sun, it’s not the plant for you. The “Features” section gives you an overview or plant description so you’ll know what to expect. While the “Benefits” section talks about the plants strong suits and how the plant will benefit wildlife. 

    A Special Note About Exposure

    Full sun: Prefers six or more hours of direct sunshine a day
    Partial shade: Thrives in three to six hours of daily sunshine
    Shade: Generally does well with less than three hours of sun per day. Having said that even shade loving plants will struggle in extremely deep shade.


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