Native Ferns of Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island contains many species of ferns, with quite a few being found throughout the Macphail Woods property.

These guides help to showcase some of our more common ferns, like the Sensitive or Interrupted fern, as well as some of our rarer species that we are currently propagating at our Nursery, such as Christmas fern and Braun’s holly fern.

For more information: http://www.ontarioferns.com/

Young Ferns

Beech Fern

Christmas Fern

Cinnamon Fern

Ostrich Fern

Royal Fern

Sensitive Fern

  • Braun’s Holly Fern (S1- Extremely Rare)
  • Christmas Fern (S3 – Uncommon)
  • Cinnamon Fern (S5 – Abundant)
  • Interrupted Fern (S5 – Abundant)
  • Ostrich Fern (S5 – Abundant)
  • Royal Fern (S3 – Uncommon)
  • Sensitive Fern (S5 – Abundant)
  • New York fern (S5 – Abundant)
  • Marsh Fern (S5 – Abundant)
  • Male Fern (S1 – Extremely Rare)
  • Spinulose Shield Fern (S4-5 – Fairly Common – Abundant)
  • Crested Shield Fern (S5 – Abundant)
  • Evergreen Wood Fern (S5 – Abundant)
  • Mountain Wood Fern (S4? – Fairly Common)
  • Beech Fern (S5 – Abundant)
  • Hay-scented fern (S5 – Abundant)
  • Bracken fern (S5 – Abundant)
  • Lady Fern (S5 – Abundant)
  • Chamomile Grape-Fern (S2 – Rare)
  • Leathery Grape-Fern (S2 – Rare)
  • Cutleaf Grape-Fern (S1 – Extremely Rare)
  • Triangle Grape-Fern (S1S2 – Extremely Rare – Rare)
  • Lance-leaf Grape-Fern (S1S2 – Extremely Rare – Rare)

  • Moonwort Grape-Fern (SU – Unrankable – need more info)
  • Mingan Moonwort (SU – Unrankable – need more info)
  • Regulose Grape-Fern (SU – Unrankable – need more info)
  • Least Grape-Fern (S1 – Extremely Rare)
  • Spoon-leaf Moonwort (SU – Unrankable – need more info)
  • Rattlesnake Fern (S3 – Uncommon)
  • Northern Oak Fern (S5 – Abundant)
  • Fragile Fern (SU – Unrankable – need more info)
  • Bladderfern (S1 – Extremely Rare)
  • Adder’s Tongue (S1 – Extremely Rare)
  • Fragile Rockbrake (SU – Unrankable – need more info)
  • Eastern Hay-Scented Fern (S5 – Abundant)
  • Silvery Spleenwort (S3 – Uncommon)
  • Northern Beech Fern (S5 -Abundant)
  • Virginia Chainfern (S2 – Rare)
  • Green Spleenwort (SU – Unrankable – need more info)
  • Appalachian Polypody (S1 – Extremely Rare)
  • Rock Polypody (S1 – Extremely Rare)


Rare species: 

The Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre (ACCDC) in Sackville, N.B. has been a great asset for determining what is a native plant and its rarity.  They have a ranking system for plants found in each individual province (S1 to S5).  Some of the species which we will be planting, such as white spruce, wild raisin and red osier dogwood, have a ranking of S5 – “widespread, abundant, and secure under present conditions”.  Though common, these are still very useful plants and can be planted in a wide variety of open sites, such as in the school plantings where there is full sun.

The ACCDC rankings for rare plants are:

  • S1Extremely rare: May be especially vulnerable to extirpation (typically 5 or fewer occurrences or very few remaining individuals)
  • S2Rare: May be vulnerable to extirpation due to rarity or other factors (6 to 20 occurrences or few remaining individuals).
  • S3Uncommon: or found only in a restricted range, even if abundant at some locations (21-100 occurrences).
  • S4Usually widespread, Fairly Common: and apparently secure with many occurrences, but of longer-term concern (e.g., watch list)(100+ occurrences).
  • S5Abundant: widespread and secure, under present conditions.
  • SUUnrankable: Possibly in peril, but status is uncertain – need more information.

Over the past few years we have made great progress in increasing our numbers and varieties of rarer Island plants that can be used in a variety of landscape and restoration projects.  The witch hazel we have been planting out is one of our rarest native shrubs and listed as an S1.  It has been producing seed starting at about three years old.  Hobblebush is one of our showiest plants throughout the year, although these shrubs are so rare that few Islanders have had the chance to see them.


As you scroll through our guides, you’ll notice some guides have more information or better photos than others. We are always looking to increase the quality and accessibility of our nature guides.

If you are interested in helping us improve these guides, whether through photos, research, writing or website development, then please contact us via phone: (902) 651-2575 or email: danielmcrae@macphailwoods.org