Woodwardia virginica (L.) Smith

Virginia chain 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

One of the taller ferns in New England, Virginia chain fern tends to grow in lines rather than clumps.

Habitat

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

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 long and narrow, and straight
Leaf stalk scales
the leaf stalk has scales
Leaf stalk hairs
there are no hairs on the leaf stalk
Leaf blade length
28–60 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
    28–60 cm
    Leaf blade shape
    the leaf blades are widest above the base, then taper narrowly towards the tip (lanceolate)
    Leaf blade width
    At least 12 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
    there are no hairs on the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk length
    230–805 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
    3 to 9 bundles
    Leaf vein branching
    the secondary veins of the leaf blade split and rejoin to form a netlike pattern
    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 do not have stalks
    Lobe or leaflet length
    60–160 mm
    Lobe or leaflet pairs
    12–23
    Lobe or leaflet shape
    • the lobe or leaflet is extremely narrow, thread-like
    • the lobe or leaflet is widest below the middle and tapering at both ends; lance-shaped
    Lobe or leaflet width
    10–35 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
    • bogs
    • edges of wetlands
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • marshes
    • swamps
  • Spores or spore cones
    Sorus features
    there are no special features on the sorus
    Sorus shape
    the sori are long and narrow, and straight
    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.

Maine
unranked (S-rank: SNR)
Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)
Vermont
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), threatened (code: T)

Native to North America?

Yes

Synonyms

  • Blechnum virginicum L.

Family

Blechnaceae

Genus

Woodwardia

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

2.  Woodwardia virginica (L.) Smith N

Virginia chain fern. Blechnum virginicum L. • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Acid soil of swamps, 
bogs, marshes, and ditches.