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Alpine Woodsia

Woodsia alpina

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Plant Profile

Woodsiaceae (Woodsia)
Also in this family:
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
20 centimetres tall
Cliffs, gardens, mountains, rocky places.
Ferns are absent of flowers.
The spores ripen in July and August.
Pale green fronds, up to 6 inches long and 1 inch wide. Triangular leaflets in opposite pairs. The leaflets each have between 1 and 4 pairs of blunt lobes. The upper surfaces of the leaves are hairless.
Other Names:
Alpine Cliff Fern, Northern Woodsia.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Woodsia alpina, commonly known as alpine woodsia or alpine cliff fern, is a species of fern in the family Woodsia. It is native to North America, Asia, and Europe, typically found in mountainous regions, such as alpine and subalpine habitats. It is a small, evergreen fern that forms rosettes of delicate, finely divided leaves. The ferns can be found growing on rocky outcrops, cliffs, and talus slopes, it is also found in crevices and rocky habitats. The plant is also used as an ornamental plant in gardens and it is known for its ability to thrive in rocky and alpine environments. It is also used in traditional medicine, but there is not enough scientific evidence to support its medicinal properties.


Alpine Woodsia (Woodsia alpina) is a species of fern that is native to alpine and sub-alpine environments in the Northern Hemisphere. It is a hardy and attractive plant that is well-suited to rock gardens and other harsh growing conditions.

The fronds of Alpine Woodsia are delicate and lacy, with an attractive light green color that contrasts well with other plants in the garden. They grow to a height of about 10-20 cm and spread out in a rosette pattern. The fronds are divided into many small, triangular leaflets that give the plant a finely textured appearance.

One of the most distinctive features of Alpine Woodsia is its hardiness. It is capable of growing in a wide range of soil types, from well-draining sands to heavy clays. It is also tolerant of low light conditions and can grow well in shady areas, making it a good choice for woodland gardens.

Alpine Woodsia is also drought-tolerant and is able to withstand long periods of dry weather. This makes it a good choice for gardeners in regions with low rainfall or dry summers. It is also resistant to pests and diseases, which helps to keep maintenance to a minimum.

In terms of propagation, Alpine Woodsia is relatively easy to grow from spores or spores of the root. Simply place a small piece of the plant in well-draining soil and water it regularly until it is established. It can also be propagated by spores, which can be collected from the parent plant and planted in a new location.

Alpine Woodsia is a hardy, attractive and low-maintenance fern that is well-suited to a variety of gardening conditions. Whether you are looking for a plant to grow in a rock garden or a shady woodland, Alpine Woodsia is a great choice.

In addition to its ornamental qualities, Alpine Woodsia also has ecological importance. It is a crucial part of the alpine and sub-alpine ecosystems, providing habitat and food for a variety of animals, including insects and small mammals.

Alpine Woodsia is also a good indicator of environmental health, as it is sensitive to changes in its environment, such as pollution or alterations to its native habitat. This makes it an important species to conserve and protect, as the health of these ferns is a good indicator of the overall health of the ecosystem.

When growing Alpine Woodsia in the garden, it is important to provide the plant with well-draining soil and to protect it from excessive moisture. Over-watering can cause the plant to rot and die, so it is important to allow the soil to dry out between waterings.

The plant also benefits from regular fertilization with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer, which will help to promote healthy growth and increase its resistance to pests and diseases.

In terms of its overall care, Alpine Woodsia is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow and care for. With its attractive foliage and hardiness, it is a great choice for gardeners of all levels of experience.

Alpine Woodsia is a beautiful and versatile fern that is well-suited to a wide range of gardening conditions. With its ecological importance and ease of care, it is a great addition to any garden or landscape.

In terms of its use in landscaping, Alpine Woodsia is a great choice for rock gardens, alpine gardens, and woodland gardens. It can also be grown in containers or planted in the ground as a groundcover in shady areas. When planting in the ground, it is best to place the ferns in clumps or drifts, rather than planting individual plants, as this will create a more natural and cohesive appearance.

In terms of its aesthetic qualities, Alpine Woodsia has delicate, lacy fronds that create an attractive contrast with other plants in the garden. Its light green color and finely textured foliage make it a great choice for adding texture and interest to any garden.

When designing a garden with Alpine Woodsia, it is important to consider the plant's growing requirements, such as its preference for well-draining soil and its tolerance of low light conditions. It is also important to consider its eventual size, as the ferns can spread out to a width of up to 30 cm, and may need to be spaced accordingly.

In terms of companion plants, Alpine Woodsia pairs well with other alpine plants, such as alpine wildflowers, mosses, and low-growing shrubs. When planting in a rock garden, it is also a good idea to pair the ferns with rocks and stones, which will complement the plant's delicate foliage and add visual interest to the garden.

In conclusion, Alpine Woodsia is a versatile and attractive fern that is well-suited to a wide range of gardening conditions. Whether you are looking to create a rock garden, an alpine garden, or a woodland garden, Alpine Woodsia is a great choice for adding texture and interest to your landscape.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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