Tassel Fern, Bristle Fern
Prized for its glossy dark fronds and attractive scaly chestnut midribs, the Japanese Tassel Fern offers an extra gift in spring when it produces delicate furry silver knuckles of new growth.
Polystichum polyblepharum is a hardy evergreen fern bearing stiff, erect, lance-shaped fronds which resemble a shuttlecock. The overlapping fronds of dark green glossy foliage and striking scales make this a perfect elegant fern for a shaded spot in the garden.
Native to China, South Korea and Japan, Polystichum polyblepharum is one of the choicest of garden ferns, having interest at most stages of the year. Newly emerging croziers are covered in scales, and as they develop the tips fold backwards to make the ‘tassels’ of the Tassel Fern.
The Latin specific epithet ‘polyblepharum’ means “many eyelashes”, which refers to the bristles on the stipe and rachis, which give it one of its other common names: ‘Bristle Fern’.
As the fronds age they turn a glossy deep green and are beautifully presented in a slightly recurved rosette, like a soft light-reflecting mirror in a shady spot.
Polystichum polyblepharum Garden Design and Pairing
A classic use of ferns in garden design is to mix them with plants with contrasting leaf textures and colours.
Asplenium scolopendrium makes for a brilliant companion as its glossy, lance shaped fronds provide rich textural contrast.
To emphasise this contrast, try planting with purple leaved shade loving plants like Actaea, or boldly compliment them with hellebores to add a splash of colour.
Care & Size Guidance
Polystichum polyblepharum requires little maintenance yet can grow quite enormous as ferns go, so long as its given deep, rich and moist soil. New growth appears early in the year, so make sure to protect them from any late frosts.
Consider planting the rhizome at an angle to help combat any crown rot problems, which usually only occur in poorly drained soils.