Polypodium californicum 'Sarah Lyman'

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Polypodium californicum 'Sarah Lyman'

Species Name: Polypodium californicum 'Sarah Lyman'
Common Name: Sarah Lyman California Polypody Fern

A more graceful fern than the species, with more dissected fronds. Summer dormant, it reappears in fall often before the first rains.

Plant Family: Polypodiaceae
Plant Type: Fern
Height by Width: 1' H, spreading
Growth Habit: Spreading
Deciduous/Evergreen: Summer-deciduous
Growth Rate: Moderate
Sun Exposure: Shade or partial shade
Soil Preference: Adaptable
Water Requirements: Occasional to moderate
Cold Hardy to: Frost tender
Flower Season:
Flower Color:
Distribution: Selected for the garden
Natural Habitat: Selected for the garden

Care and Maintenance
Very little effort is required to care for this fern. It will emerge with the first rains in Fall and provide beautiful green foliage through Spring. The only effort is to remove the fronds once they have gone completely dormant. It will spread slowly and easily is managed if it moves out of bounds. Dig sections of the clump and replant as needed in the Fall after they have emerged.
In 1897, Sarah Lyman and her son Jack were walking on a hill in Napa County and came across this interesting fern. She transplanted a clump to her yard. Over the years, it grew and she shared it with friends. In time, the Napa Chapter of the California Native Plant Society became aware of the plant and worked to ensure that it was protected. For some time, it was considered a unique species, but analysis proved that it was a special form of the species Polypodium californicum. At the urging of Jack Lyman, this special form was named for his mother Sarah. Reports indicate that this beautiful fern is still found in the original location where Sarah Lyman found it more than a century ago. And of course, it thrives in our gardens as well.
Other Names
Polypodium caliriza 'Sarah Lyman'
  • Bornstein, Carol, David Fross, and Bart O'Brien. California Native Plants for the Garden. Los Olivos, CA: Cachuma Press. 2005.
  • Fremontia, July 1985.