Sword Fern

Polystichum munitum

Photo: Nancy Turner

Sword Fern

APPEARANCE

The sword fern has dark, evergreen fronds (leaves) that can be as tall as one and a half metres. The fronds grow from the plant in a clump. They have large toothed leaves.

RANGE & HABITAT

The sword fern grows from Alaska to south California in coastal or moist areas. It is often found growing with western red cedar in damp forests with lots of shade. In B.C., this plant grows in the Coast and Mountains and Georgia Depression ecoprovinces.

LIFE CYCLE

Sword ferns reproduce by spores not by seeds; they need lots of moisture to spread the spores to sprout in a new spot. The new fronds start as curled stems, called “fiddleheads”.

ANIMAL USES

Only a few animals, like mountain beavers, will eat sword ferns.

TRADITIONAL FIRST NATIONS USES

The roots (rhizomes) were used for cooking and eating. The leaves (fronds) of the plant were used to line cooking pits and baskets, beds and floors.

MODERN USES

Sword ferns are planted in gardens as ornamentals.

STATUS

COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

MORE INFORMATION

www.linnet.geog.ubc.ca

Photo: eakspeasy