Dryopteris cycadina (syn. Dryopteris atrata) – This RHS Award of Garden Merit winner is semi-evergreen in nature, usually getting through our milder coastal BC winters intact. The Shaggy Shield Fern features erect leathery fronds with the stalks or stipes covered in black scales that contrast nicely against its bright green colouring. Grows 18-36″ high and wide. Hardy to zone 5.
Dryopteris formosana – The Limelight Wood Fern is a native of Japan and Taiwan, and features bright yellowish-green new growth that darkens with age. It tolerates shade to partial (morning) sun and is evergreen in nature. The fronds have a distinct triangular shape and they arch out gracefully from the crown. Grows 24-36″ high and wide. Hardy to zone 5.
Dryopteris expansa – This Pacific Northwest native (as well as much of the northern hemisphere) is definitely herbaceous in nature and is often found growing in rotting wood debris. It prefers evenly moist soils which is why it is a common sight near streams. The new growth is a pale lime (shown) which darkens as it matures. Grows 24-36″ high by 18-24″ wide. Zone 5.
Dryopteris hondoensis – This native of Japan, China and Korea has red-tinted new growth which is often mistaken for Autumn Fern or Dryopteris erythrosora – with the foliage eventually fading to green as shown. The new fronds push upright and eventually fall to form a symmetrical crown. Recently introduced into cultivation. Grows 24-30″ high and wide. Hardy to zone 4.
Dryopteris koidzumiana (syn. D. erythrosora var. koidzumiana) – This close relative of the Autumn Fern (Dryopteris erythrosora) was introduced in the early 1990’s and features brilliant coppery-red new fronds. It may be slow to enact new growth in spring and is evergreen in milder regions. The fronds mature to a semi-glossy deep green. Grows 18-24″ high and wide. Zone 7.