Dryopteris marginalis
Marginal Shield Fern

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Part Shade
Marginal Shield Fern
Dryopteris marginalis

The leathery leaves of Dryopteris marginalis are a beautiful addition to the woodland garden and can form a lovely an easy to maintain groundcover. A sturdy east coast native, it forms a tidy clump that will not spread and is very tolerant of dry shade conditions once it has established. Marginal wood fern is often found in shaded crevices of rocky ledges and bluffs from Newfoundland to Georgia, west to Oklahoma and Minnesota.

Easy-to-grow evergreen fern tolerant of dry conditions
Provides year round cover for birds, toad and lizards
Used in floral arrangements
A well-behaved, non-colonizing fern for eastern woodlands
Blue-green foliage is a lovely contrast to winter snow

Native Range

Moist to dry woods; Newfoundland to Minnesota south to Oklahoma and Georgia.

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

Interesting Facts


Ferns have a way of lightening the darkness of shade gardens and woodlands; they somehow make these areas less dark and project a feeling of lushness. Mix different native ferns in the same area to take advantage of the wonderful variety of textures and colors available. Dryopteris is translated from the Greek as "oak fern".




Wood ferns are easy to grow in average to moist, rich, well-drained soils in shade or part sun. They tolerate drought very well once established. Needs protection from wind to keep foliage looking nice. Best planted in masses in the shaded or woodland garden, as an accent or mixed with bulbs and other native perennials.


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

Hardiness Zone: 3-8

Sun Exposure: Part Shade

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