Phegopteris hexagonoptera (Michx.) Fée

broad beech 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

The fronds of broad beech fern are distinctive in that they are as broad at their base as they are long. The pinnae (leaflets) are winged at the rachis (axis), even the lowermost (basal) pinnae, which distinguishes broad beech fern from long beech fern.

Habitat

Forests, 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 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
  • the leaf stalk has hairs
  • there are no hairs on the leaf stalk
Leaf blade length
10–40 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
    10–40 cm
    Leaf blade shape
    the leaf blades are roughly triangular
    Leaf blade width
    At least 15 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 drop off in winter
    Leaf stalk color
    yellow to brown
    Leaf stalk hairs
    • the leaf stalk has hairs
    • there are no hairs on the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk length
    70–450 mm
    Leaf stalk relative length
    the leaf stalk is more 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 stalks
    the leaflets do not have stalks
    Lobe or leaflet length
    70–200 mm
    Lobe or leaflet pairs
    9–14
    Lobe or leaflet width
    20–80 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
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • edges of wetlands
    • forests
    • swamps
  • Spores or spore cones
    Sorus features
    the indusium of the sorus has glands on stalks (stipitate glands)
    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
rare (S-rank: S2), special concern (code: SC)
Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)
New Hampshire
uncommon (S-rank: S3), W (code: W)
Vermont
rare to uncommon (S-rank: S2S3)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Phegopteris connectilis:
basal leaflets not connected to the next apical pair and usually projected downward and out of plane with the remainder of the blade (vs. P. hexagonoptera, with basal leaflets connected to the next apical pair by a wing of tissue and in plane with the remainder of the leaf blade).

Synonyms

  • Dryopteris hexagonoptera (Michx.) C. Christens.
  • Thelypteris hexagonoptera (Michx.) Weatherby

Genus

Phegopteris

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

2.  Phegopteris hexagonoptera (Michx.) Fée N

broad beech fern. Dryopteris hexagonoptera (Michx.) C. Christens.; Thelypteris hexagonoptera (Michx.) Weatherby • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Mesic soils of forests and borders of swamps, found in progressively richer soils to the north.