Dryopteris filix-mas


The Male-fern is a large, clump-forming woodland fern which is common throughout the UK. Fresh green fronds unfurl from scaly, brown, underground rhizomes that push through the soil in mid spring. These grow in height in the summer to form impressive stands, but will die back later in the year. Male-ferns are hardy plants and can survive in quite dry conditions, so are ideal for gardens; plant them in shade or borders for attractive, natural cover.

How to identify

The Male-fern is one of a number of similar species, including buckler-ferns and Lady-fern, which are difficult to tell apart. Male-fern fronds are separated into tapering leaflets, deeply divided and coming out from the main stem in opposite pairs.

Where to find it



When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Our gardens are a vital resource for local wildlife, providing corridors of green space between open countryside, allowing species to move about. In fact, the UK's gardens provide more space for nature than all the National Nature Reserves put together. So why not try planting native plants and trees to encourage birds, mammals and invertebrates into your backyard? To find out more about wildlife-friendly gardening, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Latin name
Dryopteris filix-mas
Ferns and horsetails
Height: up to 1.25m
Conservation status