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Marsh Fern
Thelypteris palustris (Thelypteris thelypteroides, Dryopteris thelypteris)

This is a very common fern in wet, sunny areas.

• Family: Thelypteridaceae
• Habitat: edges of marshes and wet meadows, ditches, or woods; usually in rich, wet soil but not in standing water
• Height: 18-24 inches
• Location of spores: Underside of fronds, on rows of dots near the midvein. Fertile fronds have leaf edges that are slightly rolled over the spore-bearing sori (see photos below).
• Stipe (leaf stalk): smooth and pale green above, black at base
• Growth pattern: random
• Persistence: deciduous

next fern
Thelypteris palustris
Marsh fern growing in a cranberry bog. Only sterile fronds are present.


Leaflets of a fertile frond, showing the slightly rolled leaf edges. Sterile frond edges are not rolled.


Underside of a fertile leaflet, showing the leaf edges curled around the sori (spore-bearing dots). These rolled edges distinguish marsh fern from its relative Massachusetts fern.


Last updated November 25, 2005. © 2005 Connecticut Botanical Society. All rights reserved.