Christmas fern – Polystichum acrostichoides

Christmas Fern growing at the National Arboretum in Washington D.C.
Christmas Fern growing at the National Arboretum in Washington D.C

Christmas fern is a common fern of shaded glades in this area; it is even available at garden centers as a potted plant or as bare roots. But in Minnesota this fern is listed as Threatened and in New York as Exploitably Vulnerable. The reason it carries the Christmas appellate is because the fronds stay green late into the winter season; also at one time they were used by florists to make Christmas wreaths.

This fern was utilized by many Native American tribes to treat chills, fevers, pneumonia, stomach or bowel complaints and rheumatism. It is used very little, possibly not at all, in modern Herbalism.

This fern has very little benefit to wildlife, being eaten only sparingly by deer in the coldest winter months. The fronds can be used in dried flower arrangements.

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