Dryopteris marginalis (L.) Gray

marginal wood fern

Copyright: various copyright holders. To reuse an image, please click it to see who you will need to contact.

New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

Found this plant? Take a photo and post a sighting.

North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

enlarge

Facts About

Marginal wood fern is a leathery, evergreen fern, blue-green above and light green on the underside. It gets its name from the sori (aggregations of spore-bearing structures in ferns) located at the margin or edge of the underside of the pinnules.

Habitat

Cliffs, balds, or ledges, forests, talus and rocky slopes

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • 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 similar in size and shape to 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
25–75 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 similar in size and shape to the sterile fronds
  • Leaves
    Features of leaves
    there are no special features on the leaves
    Leaf blade length
    25–75 cm
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blades are long and very narrow (linear)
    • the leaf blades are widest above the base, then taper narrowly towards the tip (lanceolate)
    Leaf blade tip shape
    the tip of the leaf blade is a blunt point (obtuse)
    Leaf blade width
    At least 5 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
    100–200 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 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
    15–162 mm
    Lobe or leaflet pairs
    15–20
    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
    10–54 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
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • cliffs, balds, or ledges
    • forests
    • talus or rocky slopes
  • 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

Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but occasionally in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACU)

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.

Maine
unranked (S-rank: SNR)
Massachusetts
widespread (S-rank: S5)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Dryopteris filix-mas:
sori born between the margins and veins of the ultimate segments and scales of two distinctly different sizes (vs. D. marginalis, with sori borne near margins of ultimate segments and scales not of two distinct sizes).
Dryopteris goldiana:
sori positioned near midrib of leaf segments and scales at base of leaf stalk dark brown with a pale border (vs. D. marginalis, with sori positioned near margin of leaf segments and scales at base of leaf stalk pale brown).

Synonyms

  • Polypodium marginale L.

Genus

Dryopteris

Need Help?

Get Help

Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

9.  Dryopteris marginalis (L.) Gray N

marginal wood fern. Polypodium marginale L. • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Rocky forests, cliff bases, talus, and steep banks.

2×9. Dryopteris carthusiana × Dryopteris marginalis Dryopteris ×‌pittsfordensis Slosson is a very rare wood fern hybrid known 
from CT, MA, VT. It shows sori positioned closer to the margin than the midrib of the ultimate segments, and it has fairly dense scales at the base of the petiole (as do other D. marginalis hybrids). However, the hybrid is very similar to D. carthusiana in regard 
to overall leaf blade outline, division of segments, and margin of segments (serrate 
vs. entire or crenate in D. marginalis). The leaf blade texture is also thicker than in 
 D. carthusiana, lending a semi-evergreen habit to the blade.

3×9. Dryopteris clintoniana × Dryopteris marginalis Dryopteris ×‌burgessii Boivin is a rare wood fern hybrid known from CT, MA, NH, VT. It is similar to D. ×slossoniae. However, the leaflets of D. ×burgessii are not as widely spaced on the rachis, the leaf blades are relatively wider, and the apex of the blade tapers more abruptly.

4×9. Dryopteris cristata × Dryopteris marginalis Dryopteris ×‌slossoniae Wherry ex Lellinger is a somewhat rare wood fern hybrid known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. It shows sori positioned closer to margin 
than the midrib of the ultimate segments and fairly dense scales at the base of the 
petiole (as with other D. marginalis hybrids). The leaflets are relatively widely spaced 
on the rachis, the lower ones triangular, and the leaf blades are lanceolate with 
± parallel margins (rather than leaflets more crowded on the rachis, the lower ones 
oblong-triangular, and the blades broad-lanceolate in D. marginalis).

5×9. Dryopteris filix-mas × Dryopteris marginalis Dryopteris ×‌montgomeryi Fras.-Jenk. & Widen is a very rare wood fern 
hybrid known from ME, VT. It shows sori positioned closer to the margin than the midrib of the ultimate segments and fairly dense scales at the base of the petiole (as with 
other D. marginalis hybrids). However, the general aspect of the plant is very similar 
to D. filix- mas, including the leaf blade tapering to the base and to the apex, numerous pairs of leaflets per blade, and abundant scales on the rachis and costae.

7×9. Dryopteris goldiana × Dryopteris marginalis Dryopteris ×‌neowherryi W.H. Wagner is a rare wood fern hybrid known from CT, MA, ME, VT. It shows sori positioned closer to the margin than the midrib of the ultimate segments and fairly dense scales at the base of the petiole (as with other D. marginalis hybrids). The petiole scales are dark brown, and the leaf blade tapers abruptly at the apex (rather than pale petiole scales and ± gradual taper to apex in D. marginalis).

8×9. Dryopteris intermedia × Dryopteris marginalis This is a relatively rare wood fern hybrid known from CT, MA, VT. It shows sori positioned closer to the margin than the midrib of the ultimate segments and fairly dense scales at the base of the petiole (as with other D. marginalis hybrids). The 
indusia (and often the rachis and costae) have stipitate glands, and the segment margins are serrate (unlike D. marginalis).