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Woodwardia areolata (L.) T. Moore

Netted chain fern, nettled chain fern

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
ClassFilicopsida“Leptosporangiate” (has to do with how their spores form) ferns—includes most ferns
OrderPolypodialesPolypod ferns
FamilyBlechnaceaeGround-dwelling or climbing ferns, whose young fronds are often tinged with red
GenusWoodwardiaFor English botanist Thomas Jenkinson Woodward (1745–1820)
SpeciesareolataNet-like, referring to leaf veins

About plant names...

Netted chain fern is native to eastern North America. It forms dense colonies in areas that remain wet year round: acidic bogs, seeps, and wet woods, rarely on rock of siliceous cliffs and ledges on northern edge of range. It tolerates brackish water.

Identification: Stalks are purplish-brown. Sterile fronds are 2′ (60 cm) × 6″ (15 cm), oval in overall shape, with a sharp tip. Their pinnae are sharp-tipped, narrow, with wavy edges and fine teeth. They are winged where they join the rachis, except at the very bottom. Veins on the pinnae form a netlike pattern. Fertile fronds are narrower, more spread out. Fertile pinnae are curled as if protecting the sori, so much so that they appear very narrow. The sori are reddish brown, deeply embedded in the leaflets, and longer than they are wide. They appear in two parallel rows.

Netted chain fern looks a little like sensitive fern, but the fertile fronds are very different, and leaf margins of netted chain fern are toothed, while those of sensitive fern are not.

Online References:

The Connecticut Botanical Society's Connecticut wildflowers site

The New England Wildflower Society’s GoBotany site


The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center


Cobb, Boughton, Farnsworth, Elizabeth & Lowe, Cheryl, Peterson Field Guides: Ferns of Northeastern and Central North America, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005, p. 236

Lorinseria areolata (L.) C. Presl


Woodwardia areolata description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Woodwardia areolata (netted chain fern, nettled chain fern)

Sterile pinnae. · 10/21/2012 · By Jacquelyn Boyt

Woodwardia areolata (netted chain fern, nettled chain fern)

7/29/2023 · By Jacquelyn Boyt

Woodwardia areolata (netted chain fern, nettled chain fern)

7/29/2023 · By Jacquelyn Boyt


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