E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Dryopteris filix-mas (L.) Schott
male fern
Dryopteridaceae (Wood Fern family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jim Riley  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #28351)

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Distribution of Dryopteris filix-mas
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Dryopteris filix-mas ssp. filix-mas

Species Information

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Deciduous perennial in vase-like clusters from a short, stout rhizome.
Oblong-lanceolate, broadest in the middle and narrowed towards the top and less towards the bottom, 20-120 cm long, 5-35 cm wide, 1-pinnate, the pinnae deeply cut, the segments with small blunt teeth along the margins.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic to moist alluvial forests, avalanche tracks, talus and rocky crevices in the lowland to subalpine zones; frequent in coastal BC except rare on Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands, infrequent in SC BC; almost cosmopolitan, but widely disjunct, E to NF and S to MA, NH, NY, MI, IL, TX, NM, AZ and CA; Eurasia, S America, S Asia, S Africa.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Dryopteris filix-mas

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 5 619 1790
Slope Gradient (%) 0 26 90
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
10 22 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
1 4 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: CMA(1), CWH(41), ESSF(13), ICH(9), IDF(3), MH(1), MS(3)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant/intolerant, montane, circumpolar fern (transcontinental in North America). Occurs on fresh to very moist, nitrogen-rich soils within boreal, temperate, and cool mesothermal climates. Sporadic on water-shedding and water-receiving sites, alluvial forests and avalanche tracks. Typically associated with Athyrium filix-femina, Gymnocarpium dryopteris, Oplopanax horridus, and Tiarella unifoliata. Characteristic of Moder and Mull humus forms.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References