Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Polypodium Vulgare

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch
Polypodium vulgare spores (03/12/2011, London)

Polypodium vulgare spores (03/12/2011, London)

Position: Semi to full shade

Flowering period: Sporulation takes place in Summer

Soil: Well drained, acidic

Eventual Height: 30cm

Eventual Spread: 1m

Hardiness: 5a – 8b

Family: Polypodiaceae

Polypodium vulgare is low growing evergreen fern with a spreading habit . The upper surface of each leaf is medium to dark green with a lustrous appearance, the lower surface is light green. The fronds of this fern are triangular in shape, are up to 50cm long and composed of triangular leaflets. The leaflets are divided back to the stem and these become smaller as they approach the frond tip. The leaflets are alternate in arrangement. Sori are found on thee underside of the fronds, are orange in colour, they are arranged in groups of 4 to 10 on each leaflet.. This fern spreads by underground rhizomes.

Polypodium vulgare, commonly known as the Common Polypody , is native to most of northern Europe, including the UK, and parts of the USA. In its native habitat it grows mostly in acidic substrates, including dry-stone walls, roadside banks, woodland edge and rock outcrops. In New Zealand it is considered to be an invasive species.

The etymological root of the binomial name Polypodium is derived from the Greek polys ‘many’ and pous ‘foot’, I assume in reference to each frond having a foot. Vulgare is derived from the Latin meaning common.

Polypodium vulgare (03/12/2011, London)

Polypodium vulgare (03/12/2011, London)

The landscape architect may find Polypodium vulgare useful as a low growing evergreen ground cover which is suitable for shady locations. Once established this plant is drought tolerant.

Despite P. vulgare being native it is of low ecological importance.

P. vulgare prefers moist, humus rich, well-drained soils. It prefers sandy soils and dislikes chalk soils.

This plant requires little maintenance.

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