Bob Tyler Fish Hatchery

River FernRiver Fern


Mississippi Native: River Fern

(Thelypteris kunthii)

Downloadable Brochure: RIVER FERN

Other Name/s:

Southern Shield Fern, Wood Fern, Kunth’s Maiden Fern, and Normal Shield Fern


This is a deciduous perennial fern with lime to medium green fronds. These fronds reach out from clusters of stalks and take on a bronze cast as winter approaches.  


In the spring, the river fern begins to sprout as temperatures warm. In the fall, when temperatures drop, the river fern fronds die until the next spring.  


The river fern can grow from 2 to 5 feet tall, if growing conditions are favorable. The average height is 2 to 3 feet, and the average width is 8 to 12 inches.  


The river fern is found in creeks, low woods, swamps, and along riverbanks.

Interesting Facts:

This fern is a low maintenance ground cover and is deer resistant.

Although it thrives in shade and moisture, it appears to “shrivel” and “burn” if planted in full sun.  

Planting Tips:

The river fern grows best in partial to full shade. It can withstand some drought but thrives best with moist conditions.

This fern reproduces by spore production and root division. It is helpful to cut back the dead fronds before spring growth begins.

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