Athyrium angustum (Willd.) C. Presl.

northern lady fern

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Though northern lady fern is relatively large, the fronds are delicate in texture and twice divided. This species can also be remembered by the scales on its stipe, which resemble hairy legs.

Habitat

Floodplain (river or stream floodplains), forest edges, forests, swamps, woodlands

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Leaf divisions
the leaf blade is twice compound (divided into leaflets, which are further divided into leaflets)
Plant growth form
the leaves grow from a rhizome growing at or below the ground
Spore-bearing leaflets
the spore-bearing fronds are similar in size and shape to the sterile fronds
Sorus shape
  • the sori are long and narrow, and curved
  • the sori are long and narrow, and straight
Leaf stalk scales
the leaf stalk has scales
Leaf stalk hairs
there are no hairs on the leaf stalk
Leaf blade length
20–75 cm
Leaf vein tips
the veins go all the way to the edge of the leaf blade
Show All Characteristics
  • Growth form
    Life form
    the plant is herbaceous and terrestrial
    Life stage
    the plant is visible as a typical leaf-bearing fern (sporophyte)
    Spore-bearing leaflets
    the spore-bearing fronds are similar in size and shape to the sterile fronds
  • Leaves
    Features of leaves
    there are no special features on the leaves
    Leaf blade length
    20–75 cm
    Leaf blade shape
    the leaf blades are widest near the middle and tapered towards the base and tip (elliptic)
    Leaf blade tip shape
    • the tip of the leaf blade is a blunt point (obtuse)
    • the tip of the leaf blade is a sharp point (acute)
    • the tip of the leaf blade is tapered to a narrow point (acuminate)
    Leaf blade width
    At least 5 cm
    Leaf divisions
    the leaf blade is twice compound (divided into leaflets, which are further divided into leaflets)
    Leaf lifespan
    the leaves drop off in winter
    Leaf stalk color
    yellow to brown
    Leaf stalk hairs
    there are no hairs on the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk length
    70–550 mm
    Leaf stalk relative length
    the leaf stalk is more than a quarter, but less than three quarters as long as the blade
    Leaf stalk scale location
    the scales are present only on the lower half of the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk scales
    the leaf stalk has scales
    Leaf stalk vessels
    2 bundles
    Leaf vein branching
    the secondary veins of the leaf blade branch dichotomously (two equal branches at each branch point)
    Leaf vein tips
    the veins go all the way to the edge of the leaf blade
    Leaflet relative size
    the bottom leaflets are about half as long as, to slightly longer than, the leaflets from the middle of the frond
    Leaflet stalks
    • the leaflets are stalked
    • the leaflets do not have stalks
    Lobe or leaflet length
    30–150 mm
    Lobe or leaflet pairs
    15–40
    Lobe or leaflet shape
    • the lobe or leaflet is rectangular but with rounded ends (oblong)
    • the lobe or leaflet is widest below the middle and tapering at both ends; lance-shaped
    Lobe or leaflet width
    10–40 mm
    Plant growth form
    the leaves grow from a rhizome growing at or below the ground
    final leaf segment margin
    • the topmost lobe or leaflet of the leaf blade has a smooth or lobed edge
    • the topmost lobe or leaflet of the leaf blade has an edge with teeth
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • edges of forests
    • forests
    • river or stream floodplains
    • swamps
    • woodlands
  • Spores or spore cones
    Sorus features
    there are no special features on the sorus
    Sorus shape
    • the sori are long and narrow, and curved
    • the sori are long and narrow, and straight
    Sporangia location
    the spores are clustered on sori on the lower surface of the leaf blade
    Sporangium type
    the sporangia are opaque without an annulus and usually without a stalk (leptosporangiate)
    Spore forms
    there is only one type of spore present

Wetland Status

Occurs in wetlands or non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FAC)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

None

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Athyrium asplenioides:
scales on petiole light brown to brown and leaf blades only slightly narrowed at base (vs. A. angustum, with scales on petiole brown to dark brown and leaf blades narrowed towared base).

Synonyms

  • Athyrium filix-femina (L.) Roth ssp. angustum (Willd.) Clausen
  • Athyrium filix-femina (L.) Roth var. angustum (Willd.) Lawson
  • Athyrium filix-femina (L.) Roth var. michauxii (Spreng.) Farw.
  • Athyrium filix-femina (L.) Roth var. rubellum Gilbert

Family

Woodsiaceae

Genus

Athyrium

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