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