/home/ctbotsoc/ct-botanical-society.org/app/webroot/
Connecticut Plants
Netted Chain Fern
Woodwardia areolata (L.) T. Moore

Netted chain fern is easy to overlook, since it looks similar to sensitive fern, which is much more common. To distinguish them, look for fertile fronds -- these are dissimilar. If fertile fronds are absent, note that netted chain fern's sterile fronds more pointy and less deeply lobed than those of sensitive fern.

  • Family: deer fern (Blechnaceae)
  • Habitat: shaded swamps, wet woods; can grow in slightly brackish water
  • Height: 18-24 inches
  • Location of spores: Underside of separate fertile fronds.
  • Petiole (leaf stalk): dull green and slightly scaly on the underside; lower part is red-brown
  • Growth pattern: random
  • Persistence: deciduous
  • Origin: native
Woodwardia areolata (L.) T. Moore

Sterile fronds of the netted chain fern.

Woodwardia areolata (L.) T. Moore

A fertile frond.

Woodwardia areolata (L.) T. Moore

An isolated fertile frond.

Woodwardia areolata (L.) T. Moore

Underside of a portion of the same fertile frond. Note the chain-like patterns. The bumps contain developing spores.

Woodwardia areolata (L.) T. Moore

Sterile frond of netted chain fern. Compare this to sensitive fern, which is similar but has more deeply lobed leaflets.