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Giant Chain Fern

Woodwardia fimbriata

Woodwardia fimbriata in April 2011 on 80% ET0. Photo: SK Reid.
Woodwardia fimbriata in April 2011 on 80% ET0. Photo: SK Reid.


Giant chain fern struggled during establishment in the trials field. Having deficit irrigation treatments its first summer (2010) may have played a role in its struggling performance during the more severe deficit treatments of 2011. It showed a definite preference for the 80% ETo irrigation treatment, and we suspect it would have gladly taken more. The plants began 2011 with staggered growth indexes that exactly paralleled their irrigation treatments the previous summer. Although all treatments put on a similar percentage of new growth, the other treatments were unable to overcome the advantage the 80% plants had going into the second year. Foliage appearance, disease resistance, vigor, and the overall appearance were all significantly higher at 80% ETo. We recommend establishing these plants in shade on a regular irrigation schedule for at least a year and using them in a high water-use hydrozone.

In conjunction with the trials, giant chain fern was also grown in several UCCE Master Gardener demonstration gardens throughout California. Because most of the demonstration gardens are devoted to low water-use landscaping, it was difficult for them to provide adequate water, and in some cases, shade, for this species. Those with ratings below “4” were unable to provide adequate water. Not surprisingly, plants performed best in loam soils with full shade and weekly watering.

Basic Info

Submitted by: UC Davis Arboretum
Trial Exposure: 50% Shade
Year evaluated: 2011
Height & Width
(after 2 years):
14" x 20" - UC Davis
Reported Height & Width
(at maturity):
4-6' x 4-6'
WUCOLS plant type: P N A
Water Needs & WUCOLS Region:
High - Region 2 
Mean Overall 
Appearance rating:
(1-5 Scale, 5 is highest)
3.9 - UC Davis 
Flowering Months
N/A - UC Davis

Growth and Quality Data

Click Here for Complete Data Set