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Widespread, variable group of ferns. The ones listed here are suitable for wild gardens and in woodland. Usually grows in mosses on trees and logs. All have creeping rhizomes andshed spent fronds cleanly asnew growth appears.

Polypodium californicum

Native to Californiaand northwestern Mexico.Bright green fronds 4–12 in.long emerge in fall and stayfresh-looking until late spring orearly summer, when plant goesdormant (may be nearly evergreen in coastal gardens).Spreads slowly and widely.Excellent on rocky slopes orbeneath trees, as long as drainage is excellent and garden debris is not allowed to bury the rhizomes. ‘Sarah Lyman’ is a choice selection with finely dissected fronds and a more clumping habit. Needs moderate water during growth, little to none during summer dormancy.

Polypodium glycyrrhiza, photo courtesy of Mark Turner
Polypodium glycyrrhiza, photo courtesy of Mark Turner

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Polypodium glycyrrhiza

Mat-forming native of coastal regions from Alaska to California. Grows 1 ft. high andspreads indefinitely. Use asgroundcover in woodland orrock garden. Dark green frondsresemble those of a smallsword fern (Polystichum). Grow in well-drained soil; mulch with leaf mold or other organic matter. Can take full sun when grown on the coast. Little to regular water.

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