Dryopteris cristata

Crested Wood Fern

Crested Shield Fern, Photo courtesy USDA Plants Database
Crested Shield Fern
Photo courtesy USDA Plants Database

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The natural history of the northwoods


Name:

  • Dryopteris, from the Greek, drus (drys), "oak" and pteris (pteris), "fern", "fern of the oak wood"
  • cristata, from the Latin cristatus, "tufted, crested"
  • Common name from
  • Other common names include Crested Shield Fern, Crested Buckler Fern, Buckler Fern, Narrow Swamp Fern, Dryoptère à Crêtes (Qué), Crested Buckler-fern, Gray Crested Shield Fern (UK), Granbräken (Swe), Vasstelg (Nor), Butfinnet Mangeløv (Dan), Korpialvejuuri (Fin), Kammfarn (Ger), Tarajos pajzsika (Hun)

Taxonomy:

  • Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
    • Division Polypodiophyta, the True Ferns
      • Class Filicopsida
        • Order Polypodiales
          • Family Dryopteridaceae, the Wood Ferns
            • Genus Dryopteris, the Wood Ferns
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 17531
  • Also known as Aspidium cristatum, Lastrea cristata, Nephrodium cristatum, Polypodium cristatum, Polystichum cristatum, Thelypteris cristata
  • Thought to have originated from a cross of Dryopteris ludoviciana and the hypothetical, and presumably extinct, Dryopteris semicristata.
  • Hybridizes with five species, producing plants identifiable by narrow blades and triangular lower pinnae.

Description:

  • A gaunt fern of wetlands.
  • Fronds dimorphic; fertile leaves deciduous, 10"-24"; sterile leaves smaller, 6"-12", forming persistent, evergreen rosette.
    • Petiole (leaf stalk) 1/4--1/3 length of leaf, scaly at least at base; scales scattered and tan.
    • Blade green, narrowly lanceolate or with parallel sides, twice-cut.
    • Rachis (axis) green; slightly scaly toward base.
    • Pinnae (primary leaflets) of fertile leaves triangular, twisted out of plane of blade and perpendicular to it; lower pair somewhat reduced in size.
    • Pinnules (secondary leaflets) uncut, with spiny teeth; lowest pair of pinnules longer than adjacent pinnules; basal basiscopic pinnule and basal acroscopic pinnule equal.
  • Rootstalk dark brown, stout, creeping or ascending, with numerous brown scales.
    • Roots black, wiry, and widely spreading; numerous.
  • Sori midway between midvein and leaf edge.
    • Indusia kidney shaped, with minute hairs.

Identification:

  • The narrow frond with short, widely spaced, and tilted leaflets is unlike anything else in the North Country.
  • Distinguished from other Dryopteris species by habitat and narrow fronds with widely spaced leaflets tilted out of the plane of the blade.
  • Field Marks
    • wetland habitat
    • narrow fronds with widely spaced, tilted leaflets

Distribution:

  • Circumboreal, British Columbia to Newfoundland, south to NE Washington, Idaho, NW Montana, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, and North Carolina.
  • Europe from Norway to Russia, south to the UK, Spain, Italy, and Romania.

Habitat:

  • Moist woods, thickets, marshes, swamps, sphagnum bogs, and open shrubby wetlands.

Fire:

Associates:

History:

Uses:

Reproduction:

  • By spore and vegetatively by rhizome.

Propagation:

  • By rhizome division.

Cultivation:

  • Hardy to USDA Zone 3 (average minimum annual temperature -40ºF)
  • Cultural Requirements
    • Sun to part shade.
    • Moist to wet soil
  • Occasionally available by mail order from specialty suppliers.

Links:

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Last Updated on 26 February, 2004