Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Hay-Scented Fern

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

This native of open woods and dry slopes is found throughout most of the Mid-Atlantic Region. In Virginia, it is abundant in higher elevations to infrequent in the Coastal Plain. It can spread quickly to create a ground cover in shady woodland gardens. Crush some leaflets and its common name becomes apparent from the hay-like scent that emanates.

Print Version: Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Hay-Scented Fern

Fern Height: 1–3 feet Spread: 2–3 feet Bloom Color: Non-flowering Characteristics Deciduous perennial with arching or erect fronds Lacy triangular bi- or tri-pinnate yellow-green foliage with a soft, hairy surface Fronds measure up to one foot wide Spores ripen in cup-like structures on marginal undersurface of fronds from July to October Fronds turn gold or copper-colored in fall Spreads (aggressively in favorable conditions) by rhizomes to form clonal colonies Attributes Tolerates sun (with sufficient soil moisture), dense shade, and rabbits; no serious pests or diseases; deer rarely damage Low maintenance and adaptable Aromatic when leaves are brushed/crushed Provides cover for wildlife Growing and Maintenance Tips Soil Requirements: Loamy acidic soil Light Requirements: Partial Shade, Shade Water Requirements: Dry, Moist May decline by late summer in hot climates Use in large woodland gardens where it will have room to spread and not overtake other plants Hardiness: USDA Zones 3–8 Excellent Replacement for Hedera helix - English Ivy, Liriope spicata - Creeping Lily-Turf and Vinca minor - Periwinkle

Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets