Connecticut Plants
Virginia Chain Fern
Woodwardia virginica (L.) Smith

Virginia chain fern looks roughly similar to cinnamon fern, which is more common in Connecticut. To identify Virginia chain fern, look for the distinctive sori (see second photo below). If sori aren't present, look for dark shiny petioles (leaf stalks).

  • Synonyms: Anchistea virginica
  • Family: deer fern (Blechnaceae)
  • Habitat: sphagnum bogs, swamps
  • Height: 2-4 feet
  • Location of spores: underside of fronds
  • Petiole (leaf stalk): blackish, shiny; two fine grooves
  • Growth pattern: random
  • Persistence: deciduous
  • Origin: native
Woodwardia virginica (L.) Sm.
Woodwardia virginica (L.) Sm.

Underside of a frond, showing the tan sori (spore-bearing structures), which form a double row outlining the major veins.

Woodwardia virginica (L.) Sm.

The undersides of the sterile fronds (those without sori) have an interesting (and rather attractive) pattern of veins. This is shown below in close-up.

Woodwardia virginica (L.) Sm.