Common polypody

Common polypody

Common polypody ©Dr Malcolm Storey

Common polypody

Common polypody ©Dr Malcolm Storey

Common polypody

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Scientific name: Polypodium vulgare
The common polypody is a hardy fern of damp, shady places in woodlands. It also makes a good garden fern. It has ladder-like, leathery foliage with pimply undersides - these spots are the spores.

Top facts


Height: 30cm

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


The common polypody is a medium-sized fern that is characteristic of damp, shady gorges and banks in woodlands, as well as rocks, walls and mossy branches. It can also survive in quite dry conditions and is ideal for gardens - plant it in shade under trees, or on walls or gravelly areas for attractive cover.

What to look for

There are three species of polypody, all of which look similar: fronds are made up of simple, finger-like leaflets coming out of the main stem, giving 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


Did you know?

In humid and damp woods, common polypody can grow as an 'epiphyte' (a plant that grows on another plant) on trees.