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Netted Chain Fern
Woodwardia areolata

Netted chain fern is easy to overlook, since it looks similar to sensitive fern, which is much more common. To distinguish them, look for fertile fronds -- these are dissimilar. If fertile fronds are absent, note that netted chain fern has sterile fronds with leaflets that are narrower and less lobed than those of sensitive fern.

• Family: Blechnaceae
• Habitat: shaded swamps, wet woods; can grow in slightly brackish water
• Height: 18-24 inches
• Location of spores: Underside of separate fertile fronds.
• Stipe (leaf stalk): dull green and slightly scaly on the underside; lower part is red-brown
• Growth pattern: random
• Persistence: deciduous

next fern
Woodwardia areolata
Sterile fronds of the netted chain fern.


A fertile frond.


An isolated fertile frond.


Underside of a portion of the same fertile frond. Note the chain-like patterns. The bumps contain developing spores.


Sterile frond of netted chain fern. Compare this to the sensitive fern, which is similar but has more deeply lobed leaflets.


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