Polypodium virginianum

Polypodium virginianum, commonly known as rock polypody, rock cap fern, or common polypody, is a small evergreen species of fern native to the Eastern United States and Canada. It generally grows on rocks and occasionally on tree roots in nature.

Rock polypody
Polypodium virginianum3.jpg

Secure (NatureServe)[1]
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Division: Polypodiophyta
Class: Polypodiopsida
Order: Polypodiales
Suborder: Polypodiineae
Family: Polypodiaceae
Genus: Polypodium
P. virginianum
Binomial name
Polypodium virginianum
  • P. vinlandicum A. Love & D. Love,
  • P. vulgare L. var. americanum Hooker
  • P. vulgare L. var. virginianum (L.) D. C. Eaton


Polypodium virginianum is a small rhizomatous fern with narrow leaves 8–40 centimetres (3.1–15.7 in) long and 3–6 centimetres (1.2–2.4 in) wide borne on smooth, scaleless petioles 3–15 centimetres (1.2–5.9 in). Leaves are evergreen, oblong and pinnatifid with acuminate tips.

Large, circular sori are prominently featured on the underside of fertile fronds in late summer and autumn. Sporangia are intermixed with long brown glandular hairs.[2]

Close up
Numerous sori on the underside of a leaf


Polypodium virginianum has several synonyms including: P. vinlandicum A. Love & D. Love, P. vulgare L. var. americanum Hooker,[3] P. vulgare L. var. virginianum (L.) D. C. Eaton.[4] It is generally treated as distinct, though some have recommended it is equally well treated as a North American variety of the circumboreal Polypodium vulgare.[2]

This species is an allotetraploid of hybrid origin, the parents being Polypodium appalachianum and P. sibiricum.

Distribution and habitatEdit

Polypodium virginianum typically grows on boulders, cliffs, and rocky slopes and does not need well-developed soil. It is common throughout eastern North America; its native distribution ranges from Newfoundland to Yukon south to Georgia, Alabama, and Arkansas.[2]


  1. ^ "NatureServe Explorer 2.0 - Polypodium virginianum Rock Polypody". explorer.natureserve.org. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur (1991). Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Bronx, NY: The New York Botanical Garden Press. ISBN 0-89327-365-1.
  3. ^ Esser, Karl; Kubitzki, Klaus; Runge, Michael; Schnepf, Eberhard; Ziegler, Hubert, eds. (1984). Progress in Botany / Fortschritte der Botanik: Morphology - Physiology. p. 331. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-69985-6. ISBN 978-3-642-69985-6. S2CID 39463185.
  4. ^ Eilers, Lawrence J.; Roosa, Dean M. (1994). The Vascular Plants of Iowa: An Annotated Checklist and Natural History. University of Iowa Press. p. 36. ISBN 0-87745-463-9.