Sensitive Fern is a very handsome, very vigorous, running deciduous perennial fern. It is “sensitive” only to the first frost in the late fall, and perhaps to drought — but very hardy otherwise! It is widely reported to be two- to three-foot tall and taller in wet soil, but we have never seen it taller than about 18 inches. Sensitive Fern has two types of fronds: the handsome, bright green, coarsely divided, leathery sterile fronds on long stalks, and shorter, non-green fertile (spore-bearing) fronds which brown up in the late summer and persists in the winter. The leathery texture of the sterile fronds contrasts nicely with the feathery effect of more finely divided fronds of other ferns. It tolerates dense shade and clay soils, and is very rarely touched by deer or other mammalian herbivores. It thrives in shady, evenly moist upland gardens where it will spread by both spores and rhizomes. Sensitive Fern can tolerate more sun if sufficient moisture is provided, but it will become yellowish and can become overly aggressive under these conditions. It has a very wide distribution — not only throughout central and eastern North America, but in East Asia as well, and has naturalized in western Europe. Properly sited, Sensitive Fern is an extremely attractive, lush and vigorous groundcover and has earned the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.