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Sword Fern

Polystichum munitum


"The dark green fronds of this fern grow to 50-180 cm (i.e. nearly 6 feet) tall, in a tight clump spreading out radially from a round base. They are single-pinnate, with the pinnate alternating on the stalk. Each pinnate is 1-15 cm long, with a small upward-pointing lobe at the base, and the edges are serrated with bristly tips. Individual fronds live for 1.5-2.5 years and remain attached to the rhizome after withering. The round sori occupy two rows on either side of the midrib of each pinna and are covered by a centrally-attached, umbrella-like indusium with fringed edges. They produce light yellow spores."


"The favored habitat of this fern is the understory of moist coniferous forests at low elevations. It grows best in a well-drained acidic soil of rich humus and small stones. Sword ferns are very tough, and can survive occasional dry periods, but do well only with consistent moisture, light sunlight, and prefer cool weather to overly warm. In cultivation, they also respond well to regular, light applications of fertilizer."


"Western Sword Fern spores have many medicinal uses, including relieving the pain from the sting of a Stinging Nettle. In spring, with no other food available, Quileute, Makah, Klallam, Squamish, Sechelt, Haida, and other Native American/First Nations peoples, roasted, peeled and ate the rhizomes."

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Spotted by

Humptulips, Washington, USA

Spotted on Jan 14, 2013
Submitted on Jan 14, 2013

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