Dryopteris cristata (L.) Gray

crested wood 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

Crested wood fern's leaf blades are narrower than many other ferns in New England. The pinnae (leaflets) are oriented perpendicular to the rachis and parallel to the ground.

Habitat

Swamps, wetland margins (edges of wetlands)

Characteristics

Habitat
wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont
Leaf divisions
  • the leaf blade is compound (divided into leaflets)
  • 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 slightly different from the sterile fronds
Sorus shape
the sori are circular or kidney-shaped
Leaf stalk scales
the leaf stalk has scales
Leaf stalk hairs
there are no hairs on the leaf stalk
Leaf blade length
18–80 cm
Leaf vein tips
the veins end in small round expanded areas, and do not reach 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 slightly different from the sterile fronds
  • Leaves
    Features of leaves
    there are no special features on the leaves
    Leaf blade length
    18–80 cm
    Leaf blade shape
    the leaf blades are widest above the base, then taper narrowly towards the tip (lanceolate)
    Leaf blade width
    At least 6 cm
    Leaf divisions
    • the leaf blade is compound (divided into leaflets)
    • the leaf blade is twice compound (divided into leaflets, which are further divided into leaflets)
    Leaf lifespan
    the leaves remain green all year round, or are green in winter
    Leaf stalk color
    yellow to brown
    Leaf stalk hairs
    there are no hairs on the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk length
    95–460 mm
    Leaf stalk relative length
    • the leaf stalk is more than a quarter, but less than three quarters as long as the blade
    • the leaf stalk is up to a quarter as long as the blade
    Leaf stalk scale location
    • the scales are present on both the lower and upper halves of the leaf stalk
    • the scales are present only on the lower half of the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk scales
    the leaf stalk has scales
    Leaf stalk vessels
    3 to 9 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 end in small round expanded areas, and do not reach 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
    Lobe or leaflet length
    50–90 mm
    Lobe or leaflet pairs
    10–20
    Lobe or leaflet shape
    the lobe or leaflet is widest below the middle and tapering at both ends; lance-shaped
    Lobe or leaflet width
    Up to 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 an edge with teeth tipped with bristles
  • Place
    Habitat
    wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • edges of wetlands
    • swamps
  • Spores or spore cones
    Sorus features
    there are no special features on the sorus
    Sorus shape
    the sori are circular or kidney-shaped
    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 only in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: OBL)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

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

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Dryopteris clintoniana:
basal leaflets narrow-triangular to oblong-triangular and fertile leaves relativley similar to vegetative leaves (vs. D. cristata, with basal leaflets triangular to broad-triangular and fertile leaves larger and more upright than vegetative leaves).

Synonyms

  • Aspidium cristatum (L.) Sw.
  • Polypodium cristatum L.

Genus

Dryopteris

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