Wood Fern Family

Western Sword Fern © AFengler

Dryopteridaceae (dry-OP-ter-id-AY-see-ee)

Iconic Features

  • Scales on stalks
  • Fronds 1- to 4-pinnate
  • Sori along frond veins
  • Indusia present

Description (Jepson)

  • Ferns (Polypodiopsida)
    • An early group of vascular plants that produce spores (reproductive cells)
      • Produce no flowers or seeds
      • Fossil records date back almost 400 million years, versus 130 million years for flowering plants
  • Perennial herbs
    • Grow from rhizomes (horizontal underground stems)
  • Fronds (leaves)
    • Compound (divided into leaflets), with 1-4 levels of division (1-4 pinnate)
    • Young fronds uncurl from tight spirals called fiddleheads
    • Stalks (petioles) have scales
  • Sori
    • Sori (singular: sorus) are clusters of spore-producing, sac-like structures called sporangia (singular: sporangium)
    • Located on the underside of leaflets along the veins
    • Each round sorus is protected by a tissue flap called an indusium (plural: indusia)


See General References

Specific References

American Fern Society. About Ferns.

U.S. Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture. What Are Ferns?.

Browse Some Edgewood Plants in this Family