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Dryopteris marginalis

Marginal Shield Fern /

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

Homeowner Growing and Maintenance Tips

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.

-2 Feet


-2 Feet

USDA Hardiness Zone 3-8

Native Range

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

Native Trivia

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".

"This robust evergreen fern provides year-round cover for chipmunks like me and my songbird friends."

Characteristics & Attributes

Plan Sub Group
  • Low Perennials
  • Medium Perennials
  • Filtered Shade
  • Shade
  • Acidic
  • Humus-rich
  • Well-drained
Soil Moisture Preference
  • Dry
  • Moist
  • Moist but well-drained
Attracts Wildlife
  • Amphibians
  • Mammals
  • Reptiles
  • Songbirds
Critter Resistance
  • Deer Resistant
Habitat Collection
  • Dry Shade
  • Songbird
Native Habitat
  • Forest
Foliage Color
  • Green
  • Accent
  • Border
  • Cut or dried flower
  • Drought tolerant
  • Evergreen
  • Ground cover
  • Mass plant
  • Naturalizes
Native to
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin