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Lady fern

Scientific name: Athyrium filix-femina
One of the prettiest hardy ferns, the lady fern is delicate and lacy, with ladder-like foliage. It makes a good garden fern, providing attractive cover for wildlife.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 1.2m

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

March to November

About

The lady fern is a deciduous fern that prefers acidic conditions, but can be found on a wide variety of soil types. Look out for it in woodlands and along shady hedgerows. Like all ferns, it prospers in damp, shady conditions and reproduces using spores.

How to identify

The lady fern is one of a number of similar species, including buckler-ferns and male-fern, which are difficult to tell apart. The fronds of lady ferns are usually held horizontally and droop at the ends; they are three-times pinnate and yellowy-green.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

The lady fern is from a different family than its namesake opposite - the male-fern. It was so-named for its elegance and delicacy.

How people can help

Our gardens are a vital resource for 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 entice birds, mammals and invertebrates into your backyard? To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.