Guide to Common Ferns of New England

Quick Guide to the Common Ferns of New England

by Arieh Tal

Other occasionally-common or locally-common ferns not covered in this guide include:  Oak fern (Gymnocarpium dryopteris), Fragile fern (Cystopteris fragilis), Bulblet fern (Cystopteris bulbifera), Mountain Woodfern (Dryopteris campyloptera), Maidenhair spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes), Massachusetts fern (Thelypteris simulata)

Numbers in parentheses refer to page numbers in Boughton Cobb,  A Field Guide to Ferns and their related families,  Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1984. Where more than one scientific name for a species is given, the current name is listed first, followed by the previous name.

Height Characteristics (typical for species.): Tall = Greater than 2 feet. Medium = 10 inches to 2 feet. Short = Less than 10 inches.

Growth Forms: Symmetrical clump, Asymmetrical clump, or Random (Rhizomatous).

 

  Frond (Leaf) Attributes Spore Attributes
Fern Name Ever-
green
Height Growth
Form
No.
Cuts
Shape Stem
Surface
Stem
 Groove
Location of Spore Cases Shape/Color of Spore Clusters
Royal (168)
  
(Osmunda regalis)
N Tall Sym.
Clump
2 Very large; Longer than Broad Green;
Smooth, with whitish "bloom"
No groove At end (terminal) of fronds Globular in clusters
Cinnamon (172)
  
(Osmunda cinnamomea)
N Tall Sym.
Clump
2 Plume;
Lanceolate; slight taper at base
Green; Pale brown fuzz, diminishing later in season to smooth stem No groove Separate fertile frond Globular in clusters; green turning tan
Interrupted (170)
  
(Osmunda claytoniana)
N Tall Sym.
Clump
2 Plume;
Lanceolate; slight taper at base
Green; Smooth, except when frond unfurls early in season No groove In middle of fronds, forming an "interruption" Globular in clusters; green turning brown
Hayscented (116)
 
 (Dennstaedtia punctilobula)
N Med. Random;
Rhizom.
3 Plume;
Lanceolate; slight taper at base or no taper
Green;  Finely downy Shallow groove or none Underside of Frond Nest shaped
Bracken (134)
 
 (Pteridium aquilinum)
N Med-
Tall
Random;
Rhizom.
2-3 Triangular; three segments Dark Green; Finely downy Shallow groove Underside of Frond on leaf margins In narrow lines under folds of leaflets
Polypody (130)
  
(Polypodium virginianum)
Y Short Random;
Rhizom.
1 Plume;
Lanceolate; slight taper at base
Dark green; New frond:  scattered, thin scales
Late frond:  smooth
No groove Underside of Frond Red-brown; Round with no indusium (cover)
Long Beech (82)
 
  (Phegopteris connectilis)
  
(Thelypteris phegopteris)
N Short Random;
Rhizom.
2 Triangular; lowest 2 pinnae bent inward Green; Light tan scales throughout No groove Underside of Frond Spores in round clusters; No indusium (cover)
New York (86)
  
(Thelypteris noveboracensis)
N Short Random;
Rhizom.
2 Plume;
Lanceolate; sharply tapered at base
Green; Sparse, very fine, scales and/or hairs  Shallow groove or none Underside of Frond near margins Kidney-shaped; pale
Marsh (84)
   (Thelypteris palustris)
N Short Random;
Rhizom.
2 Plume;
Lanceolate; slight tapered at base or none; often twisted at apex
Green above, black at base; Smooth; Longer than blade No groove Separate fertile frond; often taller than sterile fronds; Spores on upper leaflets in rows on main vein Narrow, kidney-shaped; Pale; Slightly hairy or ciliate
Ostrich (118)
  
(Matteuccia struthiopteris)
N Tall Sym.
Clump
2 Plume;
Lanceolate; strongly tapered tip & base
Green; Smooth throughout Deep, pronounced groove at base Separate fertile frond Spores completely covered by leaf margins
Sensitive (120)
  
(Onoclea sensibilis)
N Short-
Med.
Random;
Rhizom.
1-2 Triangular; lowest 2 pinnae bent inwards Green, shade varies; Smooth No groove Separate fertile frond Enveloped completely by fertile leaflet
Christmas (126)
  
(Polystichum acrostichoides)
Y Med. Asym.
Clump
2 Plume;
Lanceolate;  slight taper at base
Dark green; Dense, broad, light tan scales Shallow groove; base may be ungrooved Underside of Frond, close to leaf axis Red-brown; Round, in rows
Lady (110)
  
(Athyrium filix-femina)
N Med. Asym.
Clump
2-3 Plume;
Lanceolate; tapered at base
Green & red varieties; Narrow, dark scales at base Grooved Underside of Frond; at oblique angle to main vein Narrow; curved
Marginal Wood (64)
  
(Dryopteris marginalis)
Y Med. Sym.
Clump
2 Plume;
Lanceolate; slight taper at base or no taper
Green; Dense, light brown scales at base Grooved Underside of Frond near leaflet margins Kidney-
shaped; Gray, turning brown
Intermediate Wood (68)
  
(Dryopteris intermedia)
Y Med. Sym.
Clump
3 Plume;
Lanceolate; slight taper at base or no taper
Green; Dense, light brown scales at base; Glandular hairs near tip Grooved Underside of Frond between margins & main vein Kidney-shaped; Indusium (cover) glandular
Spinulose Wood (68)
  
(Dryopteris carthusiana)
   (Dryopteris spinulosa)
N Med. Sym.
Clump
3 Plume;
Lanceolate; slight taper at base or no taper
Green; Dense, light brown scales at base Grooved Underside of Frond, near tips of veins Kidney-shaped; Indusium (cover) smooth
Maidenhair (140)
  
(Adiantum pedatum)
N Med. Random;
Rhizom.
3 Oval; segments lanceolate Dark brown to black; thin; Fine scales near base No groove Underside of Frond Linear-shaped spores covered by leaf margins; White or yellow-green

 

© 2002 Arieh Tal. All rights reserved.

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