Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum)
Dryopteridiaceae ~ Wood Fern Family
Western Sword Fern is one of the largest and most
common ferns of the Pacific west. It is often an understory
dominant of Douglas Fir forests or Coast Redwood forests, and
can be found in a variety of plant communities from sea level
to mountain forests.
Members of the genus Polystichum are distinguished
in part by pinnae (leaflets) that sport a "hitchhiker's
thumb"—the prominent lobe on the lower part of the
pinna (leaflet). Western Sword Fern is closely related to Polysichum
imbricans, a fern of drier habitats with pinnae that are
layered up the midrib of the frond in an imbricated fashion.
It is always a delight to come across some of the less common
holly ferns such as Polystichum lemmonii or P.
lonchitis. Each of these perennial ferns would be a wonderful
addition to the garden, are relatively easy to grow, and many
are available through the nursery trade.