Alpine wood fern is a semi-evergreen or deciduous perennial fern native to the Himalayas, Hawaii, Mexico and Jamaica where it grows in woodland settings at high elevations. It has a massive rhizome and a wide vase-shape of handsome fronds that are bipinnatifid and bright gold-green when young before turning dark green with age. The color of the fronds is set off by the hair-like dark chocolate scales along the central ribs. The spore-producing structures (sori) have a kidney-shaped covering (indusium) and are arranged in one medial row along each side of the midribs of the lobes. An excellent choice for a shade or woodland garden, especially a small garden because of the relatively narrow width. The genus name Dryopteris comes from the Greeks words dryas meaning oak and pteris meaning fern a reference to the fact that some species are associated with oak woodlands. The specific epithet, wallichiana, is from the name of the Danish botanist, Nathaniel Wallich (1786-1854).
Type: Semi deciduous perennial fern
Bloom: Not applicable
Size: 3-5’ H x 12”
Light: Part shade, shade
Soil: Humus-rich, moist, well-drained
Hardiness: Zones 5-8
Care: Remove old fronds when they become ratty.
Pests and Diseases: None of significance
Propagation: Spores, division in spring
Companion plants: Azaleas, rododendron, astilbe, Actaea pachypoda, foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia), false Solomon’s seal (Smilacina racemosa), Dicentra spectabilis ‘Gold Heart’