Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Log Fern - Dryopteris celsa   (W. Palmer) Knowlton, W. Palmer & Pollard ex Small
Members of Dryopteridaceae:
Members of Dryopteris with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 2 » Order Polypodiales » Family Dryopteridaceae
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Author(W. Palmer) Knowlton, W. Palmer & Pollard ex Small
DistributionScattered over the Coastal Plain, absent in the Sandhills proper, and somewhat more widely scattered over the eastern and central Piedmont; a handful of Mountain records only. Seemingly absent in most of the western Piedmont and much of the Mountains. This species had been greatly under-collected when RAB (1968) was published, as that reference showed records for just six counties! Has the species greatly increased in recent decades or have populations been detected with county-level surveys? Alternatively, the uptick in records could be due to many herbaria digitizinbg their collections and now made available online.

This is an Eastern species with a scattered distribution, not frequently collected. It ranges from NY, southern MI, and MO south to southern AL and northeastern TX.
AbundanceInfrequent in the northern half of the Coastal Plain, south to Pitt and Johnston counties. Generally rare in the eastern half of the Piedmont and southern Coastal Plain, and very rare in parts of the Mountains. At one time this was a Watch List species at the NCNHP, but a great increase in sightings and collections, perhaps a population increase, has taken place in the past few decades.
HabitatThis is a wetland fern, growing in swampy woods, wetter spots of bottomland forests and alluvial forests, in wooded seepages, and other damp shaded places. It does not grow in overly acidic soils such as in pocosins or in pinelands, yet it is not normally found in overly rich, high pH soils of brownwater floodplains and natural levees.
PhenologyFruits from June to September.
IdentificationThis is a moderately-cut fern of damp forests, often identified by process of elimination. It is a rather large semi-evergreen species, with a thick and coriaceous blade that is lanceolate in general outline, and pinnate-pinnatifid to almost bipinnate. The stipe is often 9-10 inches long, and the blade is about 18-20 inches long and 8-9 inches wide. The sori are rounded and in rows on the pinnule undersides, in this species only on fertile fronds (which are slightly smaller than the sterile ones). In the mountains, D. goldieana has similar bipinnate blades, but that species has a wide blade that is sharply narrowed to the apex rather than gradually tapered as in D. celsa. In the Piedmont and Coastal Plain, it should not be confused with other species, as the rounded sori under the leathery blades will rule out most others; D. carthusiana has more lacy-cut leaves and the blades are not coriaceous/leathery. Note -- sterile plants can look much like fronds of the very common Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum); make sure you see sori underneath the fronds to claim a plant as a Log Fern.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS3
Global RankG4
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