BIO 203

Where the Licorice Ferns Grow


Polypodium is widely distributed in America, and across Eurasia with extensions southward to the Himalayas and Taiwan. Another location Polypodium has been identified is some southern portions of the continent of Africa. However, the specific species Polypodium glycyrrhiza, commonly known as Licorice Fern, can be found broadly on the United State’s Western Coastal Forest extending up through Canada’s Western Coast, and ending in Alaska.

[Left] USDA Plants Profile: Licorice Fern, states in green contain Polypodium glycyrrhiza, [Right] Licorice Fern extension through Canada, shaded area on coast where growth of P. glycyrrhiza was located.



Licorice Ferns typically grow epiphytically on living or fallen tree branches, most reoccurring on the species Acer macrophyllum, and on rock slabs, as a lithophyte, in coastal forest areas. This species of fern can also be commonly found thriving in substrate covered by moss. Polypodium glycyrrhiza grow where conditions are most favorable in terms of nutrients and sunlight, occupying a niche on and oftentimes above costal forest floors. They act as primary producers for other inhabitants of their environment including various insects, birds and other animal species. To find out what Licorice Ferns eat, click here.



[Above] Licorice Fern sporophytes growing on log, photo by brewbooks


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