Polypodium virginianum (Common Polypody)

Plant Info
Also known as: Rock Polypody
Family:Polypodiaceae (Polypody)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; cliffs, rocky slopes, rich wooded slopes
Fruiting season:summer
Plant height:4 to 10 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: lobed

[photo of frond] Leaves are 4 to 10 inches long and 1 to 4 inches wide, evergreen and leathery, deeply lobed, divided almost to the stem but not compound, narrowly oblong and widest near the middle. There are 10 to 20 pairs of lobes that are mostly alternate, oblong with a blunt or pointed tip, and have a prominent central vein. Lateral veins are free, typically forked and do not reach the edge of the lobe. The edges are smooth or with small blunt teeth. The stem is smooth and light green with some occasional brown scales on the lower part of the stem, and are mostly arching. The leaves may be found individually or in clumps, spreading from long rhizomes.

Spores: Fruit type: spores on leaf

[photo of spores] Spores first appear in early summer. The sori (group of spores) are on the underside of the leaf but not all leaves have spores. The sori are circular, orangish brown and not covered by tissue (indusium). They are in rows on each side of the mid-vein of a lobe, halfway between the mid-vein and lobe edge.


Common Polypody is easy to identify in the field as it doesn't look similar to anything else in Minnesota. In favorable conditions it can form large colonies.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at Falls Creek SNA, Washington County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Davis - Gull Lake
on: 2018-08-17 12:19:12

Found growing on rocks on the shore at Government Point on Gull Lake in Crow Wing County.

Posted by: Anja - Eagle Mountain Trail
on: 2018-11-05 15:37:47

Spotted on Eagle Mountain Trail in winter colorization, near Grand Marais area. Mostly growing on rocks.

Posted by: Karen - Hastings
on: 2019-11-14 10:46:17

Vermillion Falls Park along the river in limestone bluffs.

Posted by: Diane T Silikowski - Wayzata
on: 2020-07-12 10:32:04

Found them along the edge of forested areas at Izaty's near Lake Milaca.

Posted by: Terry O'Brien O'Brien - Deer River
on: 2022-06-07 23:23:53

On Artist's Point, Grand Marais harbor.

Posted by: gary - Lake County
on: 2022-07-29 20:52:45

Massive patch of this hardy fern on a huge boulder on the Superior Hiking Trail between Finland and Little Marais. Worth the walk to see.

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