poetry and prose about place

Evergreen Woodfern (Dryopteris intermedia Muhl.)

with 8 comments

On Sunday, I looked for and found my first November fern!  Since we had about 25 cm of snow yesterday, I may have found my only fern of the winter!

The fern I found is an evergreen fern, pressed close to the earth this time of year. 


For me, identifying ferns is always a challenge.  I use the Peterson Field Guide,  ‘A Field Guide to the Ferns and their Related Families’  by Boughton Cobb, 1963. Then I turn to a very helpful website .

With patience and careful attention to some key features, I can usually figure them out.

checklist issued by the Nova Scotia Museum for a fern project several years ago; a checklist like this is helpful to double-check your identification

The key features for the fern I found are:

  • the roughly triangular shape
  • the ‘thrice-cut’ nature of the leaves (cut once into leaflets or pinnae, a second time into subleaflets or pinnules, and a third time into lobes)
  • the stalk is greenish and scaly, not hairy
  • the lowest pair of inside subleaflets (next to the stem) of the lowest leaflet are slightly shorter than the second subleaflets next to the stem (if you look closely at the photo above, this feature is hard to see due to the camera’s perspective – the best example is the fern at the upper right).  

This fern is the Evergreen Woodfern (Dryopteris intermedia), closely related to and difficult to distinguish from the Spinulose Woodfern.

a leaf of the Evergreen Woodfern... the lowest pair of inside sub-leaflets at 'A' are shorter than the next pair at 'B'... this is the feature distinguishing the Evergreen Woodfern from other Woodferns

Written by jane tims

November 25, 2011 at 6:46 am

8 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Saw some ferns in the woods yesterday, very timely to see your informative post!


    Watching Seasons

    November 26, 2011 at 3:23 pm

  2. I love ferns. There is something magical about them. 🙂



    November 25, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    • Hi Robin. The first thing that attracted me to botany was how beautiful and mysterious plants are when you look at them closely. You must have some interesting ferns around that pond of yours. Jane


      jane tims

      November 25, 2011 at 7:53 pm

  3. Hi Jane, Thank you for this post. On a recent walk in the neighborhood, we saw green ferns, while those in our yard are now brown. I’ll have to look again–had not heard of Evergreen Woodferns before.


    Ellen Grace Olinger

    November 25, 2011 at 11:00 am

  4. We have similar ferns in the woods by my dad’s house – didn’t realize there were so many kinds. Next time I visit and take a walk I will examine them more closely to see if they are the same as your evergreen woodfern. There is something primal and lovely about them… Wonderful drawing!


    Barbara Rodgers

    November 25, 2011 at 9:14 am

    • Hi Barbara. I agree… ferns are enchanting. Let me know if you find some evergreen ferns! Jane


      jane tims

      November 25, 2011 at 7:50 pm

I'd love to hear what you think...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: