Common in forested stream bottoms and damp slopes and ravines across Eastern North America, Christmas fern is the workhorse fern for gardens and naturalized areas in the mid-Atlantic region. It is a sturdy, attractive, medium sized (2 foot) fern which is evergreen (though the fronds fall flat on the ground in the winter) and tolerant of both very moist and somewhat dry conditions. It will thrive in humusy, well drained soils from partly sunny to full shade (bright) and will tolerate even more sunshine if sufficient moisture is available. In the spring new silvery, scaled fiddleheads emerge from the center of the flattened winter mat and slowly grow into upright, leathery, lance shaped, pinnately compound leaves. In some circles, fiddleheads are eagerly collected and cooked in the spring, but Christmas fern fiddleheads, while technically edible, do not feature largely in this tradition. Christmas fern is easily identified by the presence of a notch at the base of each leaflet (pinna), as it resembles the shape of a Christmas stocking.