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Dryopteris goldiana (Goldie's woodfern)

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Hardy fern grow sheet
Species Distribution Map: Click to enlarge
Map Color Key © 2013 BONAP

Dryopteris goldiana

Goldie's woodfern

This is the largest of the native wood ferns, reaching 4' in ideal conditions. It is a stately and slowly spreading groundcover, forming large clusters of graceful arching fronds. Named for Scottish botanist John Goldie, its fronds are green without a hint of gold. Dryopteris goldiana is native to seepage slopes and moist woods from Newfoundland to Georgia, west to Minnesota and Arkansas.

Dryopteris goldiana LP32 - 32 per flat Availability
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3-4 Feet


2-3 Feet


18 Inches

Bloom Color

USDA Hardiness Zone 3-8

Goldie's woodfern Interesting Notes

Considered to be the largest of the genera Dryopteris in North America, Dryopteris goldiana is prized for its statuesque fronds that grow 3’-4’ tall in a vase shape. It is a reliable fern in this climate and it slowly spreads through the garden. We enjoy the arching habit of the fronds and the deep green color, making it a wonderful to plant in mass in the shade or woodland garden.

Dryopteris goldiana hails from Newfoundland to Georgia, west to Minnesota and Arkansas and can be found in seepage slopes, swamp edges, and moist woods. According to botanist Dr. John Hilty, the presence of this fern indicates high-quality habitats such as old-growth hardwood forests where maple, beech, or basswood are the dominant canopy layer and shrub competition is reduced. In humus-rich soils with moist to mesic conditions and dappled sunlight to medium shade, Dryopteris goldiana will thrive.

The much-disparaged site condition of deep dry shade has brought about a library of reference books but this fern solves a less common but no less tough condition of shady moist sites. Several insects have been found to feed on Dryopteris species while most mammalian species avoid the plant because it is toxic to some like rabbits. While some believe the specific epithet refers to the golden tint that can occasionally occur on the fronds, goldiana, or Goldie’s fern, is named after the botanist John Goldie.

Dryopteris goldiana Growing and Maintenance Tips

Prefers moist, rich, well-drained soils in full to partial shade. Needs protection from wind. Spreads slowly by rhizomes. Best planted in masses in the shaded or woodland garden.

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Full Shade
Full Shade
Part Sun
Part Sun
Deer Resistant
Deer Resistant

Additional Information

Soil Moisture Needs
Green Infrastructure
Wetland Indicator Status
Falcutative (FAC)
Plug Type
Landscape Plug™
Ornamental Foliage
Native to North America
Propagation Type
Tissue culture