A large genus of hardy, smaller in stature, ferns, for temperate gardens. Normally requiring good drainage and good air flow (not too humid conditions). Often fronds are pinnate, leathery. On the undersides of the leaves, the spores are bright yellow to orange, in little button-like mounds. Many cultivated forms are available.

In common with most ferns, this genus has few specific wildlife values, aside from providing ground cover to amphibians and invertebrates. There are a few insects that feed on the sporangia of polypodies, including the tiny black micromoth Psychoides filicivora which has colonized parts of southern Britain and Ireland, probably imported via the horticulture trade from Asia.

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