Thelypteris palustris Schott

marsh 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

Marsh fern is the only documented food plant of the marsh fern moth (Fagitana littera) in New England.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), bogs, fens, marshes, shores of rivers or lakes, swamps, wetland margins (edges of wetlands)

Characteristics

Habitat
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 slightly different from the sterile fronds
Sorus shape
  • the sori are circular or kidney-shaped
  • there are no sori, or they are concealed in leaf segments or hardened, capsule-like structures derived from a modified leaflet
Leaf stalk scales
  • the leaf stalk has scales
  • there are no scales on the leaf stalk
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 slightly different from 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 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 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
    90–600 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 more 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
    • there are no scales on the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk scales
    • the leaf stalk has scales
    • there are no scales on the leaf stalk
    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
    20–100 mm
    Lobe or leaflet pairs
    Up to 8
    Lobe or leaflet shape
    the lobe or leaflet is rectangular but with rounded ends (oblong)
    Lobe or leaflet width
    5–20 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
    wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • bogs
    • edges of wetlands
    • fens
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • marshes
    • shores of rivers or lakes
    • swamps
  • Spores or spore cones
    Sorus features
    there are no special features on the sorus
    Sorus shape
    • the sori are circular or kidney-shaped
    • 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 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 wetlands, but occasionally in non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACW)

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)

var. pubescens

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

Native to North America?

Yes

Synonyms

  • Dryopteris thelypteris (L.) Gray var. pubescens (G. Lawson) Weatherby
  • Thelypteris palustris var. haleana Fern.

Genus

Thelypteris

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Our variety is Thelypteris palustris Schott var. pubescens (G. Lawson) Fern.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Thelypteris palustris Schott var. pubescens (G. Lawson) Fern. N

marsh fern. Dryopteris thelypteris (L.) Gray var. pubescens (G. Lawson) Weatherby; 
 Thelypteris palustris Schott var. haleana Fern. • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Swamps, peatlands, marshes, shorelines, and wet ditches.