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Hard Shield Fern

Polystichum aculeatum

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.

Plant Data

Dryopteridaceae (Wood Fern)
Maximum Size:
90 centimetres tall
Hedgerows, mountains, riversides, rocks, woodland.
Ferns produce spores to reproduce and so ferns are flowerless.
The spores ripen between July and February.
Hard Shield Fern is an evergreen tufted fern with overwintering, glossy, dark green leaves (fronds). The leaves emerge from the surface of the ground in a rosette formation. They branches are erect and arching. The leaves are 1 to 2-pinnate with pointed, unstalked or short-stalked secondary leaflets. This fern is not too dissimilar to Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas) but Male Fern is larger and has broader leaves. Also, the leaves of Hard Shield Fern are more leathery. The stalks are covered in reddish-brown scales. Common in deciduous woodland, often in shady places and on limestone. Prefers wetter habitats.
Other Names:
Prickly Shield Fern.
Frequency (UK):
Similar Species:
Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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