Osmunda regalis L.

royal 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

Royal fern is a cosmopolitan species, and may be the only vascular plant found on all seven continents. It is common throughout New England in swamps, shorelines and riparian forests. The ferile pinnae of royal fern rise above the sterile pinnae, looking somewhat like a crown, hence the name.

Habitat

Floodplain (river or stream floodplains), forests, shores of rivers or lakes, swamps, wetland margins (edges of wetlands)

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Leaf divisions
  • the leaf blade is three times compound (divided into leaflets, which are further divided into leaflets, which are further divided into leaflets), or more
  • 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
there are no sori, or they are concealed in leaf segments or hardened, capsule-like structures derived from a modified leaflet
Leaf stalk scales
there are no scales on the leaf stalk
Leaf stalk hairs
there are no hairs on the leaf stalk
Leaf blade length
20–150 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 slightly different from the sterile fronds
  • Leaves
    Features of leaves
    there are no special features on the leaves
    Leaf blade length
    20–150 cm
    Leaf blade shape
    the leaf blades are widest above the base, then taper broadly towards the tip (ovate)
    Leaf blade tip shape
    • the tip of the leaf blade is a sharp point (acute)
    • the tip of the leaf blade is rounded
    Leaf blade width
    At least 15 cm
    Leaf divisions
    • the leaf blade is three times compound (divided into leaflets, which are further divided into leaflets, which are further divided into leaflets), or more
    • 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
    • green
    • red or red-brown to purple or black
    • yellow to brown
    Leaf stalk hairs
    there are no hairs on the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk length
    128–577 mm
    Leaf stalk relative length
    the leaf stalk is more than three quarters as long as the blade
    Leaf stalk scale location
    there are no scales on the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk scales
    there are no scales on the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk vessels
    1 bundle, U-shaped
    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
    Lobe or leaflet length
    150–300 mm
    Lobe or leaflet pairs
    2–7
    Lobe or leaflet shape
    the lobe or leaflet is widest below the middle and tapering at both ends; lance-shaped
    Lobe or leaflet width
    50–150 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 wetlands
    • forests
    • river or stream floodplains
    • shores of rivers or lakes
    • swamps
  • Spores or spore cones
    Sorus features
    there are no special features on the sorus
    Sorus shape
    there are no sori, or they are concealed in leaf segments or hardened, capsule-like structures derived from a modified leaflet
    Sporangia location
    the spores cover the surfaces of modified leaves or leaflets
    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.

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

var. spectabilis

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

Native to North America?

Yes

Family

Osmundaceae

Genus

Osmunda

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Our variety is Osmunda regalis L. var. spectabilis (Willd.) Gray.

Need Help?

Get Help

Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

2.  Osmunda regalis L. var. spectabilis (Willd.) Gray N

royal fern. CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT; throughout and common. Wet-mesic to hydric soils of swamps, riparian forests, and shorelines.

1×2. Osmunda claytoniana × Osmunda regalis Osmunda ×‌ruggii R. Tryon is an extremely rare fern hybrid known from CT 
 (only two populations, CT and VA, reported from the world by Whetstone and Atkinson 1993). Only vegetative leaves have been seen in the wild. These are twice pinnately divided with sessile leafules (the leaflets of O. regalis are short-stalked). The report 
of O. ×‌ruggii from NH by Thorne and Thorne (1989) requires confirmation (photos are stored at VT).