Woodwardia virginica (L.) Sm. - Virginia Chain-fern


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Woodwardia virginica - (image 1 of 4)



Family: Blechnaceae


Swamps, bogs and other moist habitats with acid soil.




Nova Scotia west to Ontario, MI, and IL, south FL to TX. Only a single population exists (existed?) in northern IL near the WI border.


Deciduous fern to 1.4 m from a long, creeping rhizome 6-10 mm thick. Leaves monomorphic, scattered, erect; petiole purplish-brown, shining; blade lance-oblong, to 25 cm x 50 cm, acuminate, pinnate-pinnatifid; pinnae 15-20 pairs, each pinnatifid with a rachis 1-1.5 mm wide, the segments 15-20 pairs, ovate to broadly oblong, with cartilaginous margins; veins forming a single series of areoles along the costa and costules, otherwise free. Sori superficial, oblong to linear, spanning 2 or more areoles, arranged in a chain-like row on each side of the costa; indusia thin, soon recurved, those along the costules only 1-1.5 mm, those along the costae larger.


Spores June to July

Wetland indicator: Obligate

The fronds resemble those of Cinnamon Fern but have a shiny, purplish stipe (central stem)


Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second Ed.

The New York Botanical Garden. Bronx, NY


Swink, F. and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region.
Indiana Academy of Science. The Morton Arboretum. Lisle, Illinois.




 Michael Hough 2009