Polypodium vulgare


The Common Polypody is a medium-sized fern which is characteristic of damp, shady gorges and banks in woodlands, as well as rocks, walls and mossy branches. They can also survive in quite dry conditions and are ideal for gardens; plant them in shade under trees or on walls or gravelly areas for attractive cover.

How to identify

There are three species of polypody, all of which look similar, with fronds made up of simple, finger-like leaflets coming out of the main stem; this gives them a ladder-like appearance. The spore-bearing organs are small and round, and are found on the underside of the fronds; they range in colour from bright yellow to orange.

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
Polypodium vulgare
Ferns and horsetails
Frond length: up to 50cm
Conservation status