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Arboretum Spotlight: Made in the shade

Arboretum Spotlight: Sword fern (Polystichum munitum) is a California native and thrives in relatively dry shade.
Arboretum Spotlight: Sword fern (Polystichum munitum) is a California native and thrives in relatively dry shade. The News Tribune

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “40 Plants You (Probably) Have Never Heard of – But Will Love,” 40 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region but hard to find.

Sword fern

Polystichum munitum

Size: 2 to 3 feet tall by three to 4 feet wide

Bloom season: Not applicable

Exposure: Full shade

Pruning needs: None

Water needs: Medium to low; once established, water once a week or twice a month.

Snapshot: Native to coastal California, this pretty fern forms clumps and is a useful plant to create lushness in the shade garden with less water. It has shiny, leathery leaves with small teeth along the margins. It is one of the hardiest of ferns and is reported to survive without a lot of summer water. It’s an especially attractive choice for shady spaces under existing large redwood trees.

For more on “40 Plants,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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