Do you have a shady area in your landscape that needs a ground cover? Consider planting one of the many species of the watershed’s native ferns. Here is a list of seven ferns that will enhance any landscape. Match each with its description as well as its picture.

Ferns should not be transplanted from the wild. For a list of retail and wholesale native plant nurseries in the watershed, visit

1. Christmas Fern

2. Cinnamon Fern

3. Ebony Spleenwort

4. Interrupted Fern

5. New York Fern

6. Sensitive Fern

7. Sweet Fern

A. This plant with fernlike leaves is actually a shrub in the bayberry family. It bears fragrant yellow-green flowers in April to May and green to brown nutlets in August to October. In the wild, it is found on hillsides, cliffs, wood openings, sand flats and barrens, fields and dunes. It attracts small mammals and songbirds and fixes nitrogen in the soil.

B. This easily transplanted fern readily spreads, forming large colonies. It tolerates drought and attracts small mammals and songbirds. In the wild, it is found in forested wetlands, dry to damp woods and thickets.

C. This fern, which attracts songbirds and small mammals, spreads when planted in moist areas. Its upright, fertile fronds turn

dark brown when mature and bear hard, beadlike leaflets containing the plant’s

spores. In the wild, it is found in fresh tidal and nontidal marshes, meadows, swamps and woods.

D. This fern gets its name from its wooly, reddish brown fertile fronds. It tolerates drought and attracts small

mammals and songbirds. In the wild, it is found along streams, as well in marshes, bogs, swamps and woods.

E. This evergreen fern is impartial to soil types and grows up to

3 feet high, although winter frost may render its fronds prostrate on the ground. It readily grows in rock gardens. In the wild, it is found in woods, thickets and rocky slopes.

F. This rugged fern is one of the first to appear in the spring. It grows in clumps in most soils and locations, although it prefers dry, stony soil. In the wild, it is found in fields, as well as the edges of forests and swamps.

G. This fern is easily transplanted and requires only moderate care. Its fertile, semi-evergreen fronds are

darker and more numerous than its evergreen sterile fronds. In the wild, it is found in open woods and thickets, swamps, slopes, and rocky ledges.


1-E-Y, 2-D-Z, 3-G-U, 4-F-X, 5-B-W, 6-C-T 7-A-V