Polystichum munitum - (Kaulfuss.)C.Presl.
Common Name Giant Holly Fern, Western swordfern
Family Dryopteridaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards Although we have found no reports of toxicity for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable[200]. Many ferns also contain thiaminase, an enzyme that robs the body of its vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase[172].
Habitats There are two distinct varieties, var. munitum grows in moist coniferous woods, var. imbricans grows in rock crevices and rocky soils in dry coniferous soils[60]. Forms extensive colonies[187].
Range Western N. America - Alaska to California.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade

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Polystichum munitum Giant Holly Fern, Western swordfern

Polystichum munitum Giant Holly Fern, Western swordfern
http://flickr.com/photos/[email protected] Tom Harpel
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of fern
Polystichum munitum is an evergreen Fern growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.3 m (1ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4. It is in leaf 12-Jan. Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers dry or moist soil.

Aspidium munitum.

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade; Ground Cover;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Root.
Edible Uses:

Root - roasted[2, 105, 118, 161]. Peeled and then baked like potatoes[213]. The roots were generally viewed by the native North American Indians mainly as a famine food for use when little else was available[256]. The roots were generally harvested in the spring, before the plant came into growth then cooked and peeled before being eaten[256].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antidandruff;  Birthing aid;  Poultice.

An infusion of the fronds has been used as a wash or poultice to treat boils and sores[213, 257]. The young shoots have been chewed and eaten as a treatment for cancer of the womb and to treat sore throats and tonsillitis[257]. The leaves have been chewed by women to facilitate childbirth[257]. The sporangia have been crushed and applied as a poultice to burns, sores and boils[213, 257]. A decoction of the rhizomes has been used in the treatment of dandruff[213, 257].


Other Uses
Hair;  Lining.

The leaves are used for lining boxes, baskets, fruit drying racks etc and as a stuffing material in bedding[99, 118, 257]. A decoction of the rhizome treats dandruff[172]. Plants can be grown as a ground cover and are best spaced about 1 metre apart each way[208].
Cultivation details
Very hardy and easily grown in light shade in any reasonable soil[187]. Prefers a sandy humus-rich soil in a shady position that is moist even in winter[1]. Tolerates part sun for up to 6 hours a day if the soil remains moist[200]. It is possible that the var. imbricans will succeed in drier soils[K]. Prefers a pH in the range 6.5 to 7.5[200]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233]. A very ornamental plant[1], it is a robust clump-forming species[187]. Remove old fronds from the plant in the spring because they may harbour fungal diseases[200].
Spores - best sown as soon as they are ripe, though they can also be sown in the spring. Sow them on the surface of a humus-rich sterilized soil. Keep the compost moist, preferably by putting a plastic bag over the pot. Pot on small clumps of plantlets as soon as they are large enough to handle and keep humid until they are well established. Do not plant outside until the ferns are at least 2 years old and then only in a very well sheltered position. Division. This is best done in the spring.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants


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Subject : Polystichum munitum  

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