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

Polystichum lonchitis (L.) Roth
northern holly fern (northern hollyfern)
Dryopteridaceae (Wood Fern family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Ryan Batten  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #23927)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Polystichum lonchitis
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Species Information

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Evergreen perennial arising from a short, stout rhizome.
Lanceolate, 10-50 cm long, 3-7 cm wide, 1-pinnate; pinnae oblong, the lowermost pinnae triangular, with spreading teeth.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Dry to moist, often calcareous rocks and rocky scree in the montane to alpine zones; frequent throughout BC; circumpolar, N to AK, E to NS and S to MI, MN, SD, CO, AZ and CA; Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Polystichum lonchitis

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) 0 1148 2420
Slope Gradient (%) 0 45 125
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 197 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 6
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: AT(12), CWH(112), ESSF(126), ICH(39), MH(13), MS(2)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-intolerant, montane to alpine, circumpolar fern (transcontinental in North America). Occurs in alpine tundra and subalpine boreal climates on moderately dry to fresh, nitrogen-medium soils; its occurrence increases with increasing elevation. Sporadic in non-forested and open-canopy forested communities on water-shedding sites; most common calcium-rich colluvial (scree and talus) soils. Inhaits friable organic materials accumulated between base­rich coarse fragments (stones and boulders) and on cliffs af­fected by temporary surface flow of water and organic materials. Characteristic of colluvial sites.

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 alpine tundra & boreal.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Polystichum mohrioides var. lemmonii (Underw.) Fernald

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References