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Arboretum Spotlight: Forest giant tamed

Giant chain fern is North America’s largest native fern.
Giant chain fern is North America’s largest native fern.

This is the final plant 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.

Giant chain fern

Woodwardia fimbriata

Size: Four feet tall and wide.

Bloom season: Not applicable.

Exposure: Full to partial shade with morning sun in the Central Valley.

Pruning needs: Remove old fronds at the base if they become unsightly.

Water needs: Medium; once established, water weekly.

Snapshot: This forest beauty lives up to its name. North America’s largest native fern, giant chain fern grows wild in Western Oregon and Washington. Its divided leaves usually reach four to five feet long and arch out from the crown, making a coarse but lush-looking mound. Giant chain fern does well with some sunlight, but avoid afternoon direct sun in summer. It likes a spot under mature redwood trees with some morning sun.

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