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Woodwardia areolata

Common Name(s):
Netted chain fern
Ferns, Groundcover, Native Plants

Woodwardia areolata, commonly called netted chain fern, is a deciduous fern of eastern North America which typically occurs in woodland swamps and bogs.  Features pinnatifid, glossy green sterile fronds which emerge pinkish in spring and unroll to 1-2' long. Sterile fronds typically have 8-10 pairs of lance-shaped pinnae (leaflets) with small marginal teeth. Fertile fronds arise in summer to the same length as the sterile ones but have narrower leaf divisions. The pinnae of both fronds have netted veins and the sori (spores) on the fertile fronds are arranged in chain-like rows parallel to the pinnae midribs, hence the common name. This fern is similar in appearance to the much more common sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis), except the latter generally grows taller (to 4'), has beaded, woody-like fertile fronds and has smooth-edged leaflets on the sterile fronds.

It is easily grown in organically rich, medium to wet, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Does well in average garden soils and will take considerable sun as long as soils are kept consistently moist. Spreads by branching and creeping rhizomes, and will naturalize over time into large colonies in optimum growing conditions... almost to the point of being weedy.

Regions:  Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal Plains

Wildlife Value:   This plant is highly deer resistant. It provides excellent ground cover.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  This plant needs consistently moist soil.

18-24 in.
3 to 9
Pinnae of the Netted chain fern are mostly alternate. Its spores are borne in chain-like rows on a frond with narrow pinnae. It has bright green lanceolate, pinnatifid with wide wings along rachis. Its veins joining into two or more rows of areaoles between the midvein and the margin of the pinn.
1'6" - 2"
Part shade, shade
wetland, deciduous, riparian, obligate wetland, ncemgva2018

NCCES plant id: 231

Woodwardia areolata Woodwardia areolata
Eleanor, CC BY-NC-2.0
Woodwardia areolata Woodwardia areolata
Mary Kiem, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0
Woodwardia areolata Woodwardia areolata
Eleanor, CC BY-NC-2.0