Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Crested Wood-fern - Dryopteris cristata   (L.) A. Gray
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Section 2 » Order Polypodiales » Family Dryopteridaceae
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Author(L.) A. Gray
DistributionThroughout the mountains, and scattered over most of the Piedmont. In the Coastal Plain limited just to the extreme northern border counties near VA.

This is a Northern species, found across Canada and south to central NC, northern GA, northern MO, and ID.
AbundanceUncommon in the mountains; rare to locally uncommon in the Piedmont (mainly in the northern counties), except very rare to absent in the southeastern counties; rare along the VA border in the Coastal Plain. The NCNHP considers this as a Watch List species, though as it has been collected or observed in at least 33 counties, the website editors feel that no such status is needed.
HabitatThis is a strictly wetland species, growing in somewhat similar habitats as with D. carthusiana and D. celsa; it may be found with these also scarce fern species. It grows in wet, swampy woods, bogs, and seepages. More than the other two ferns, it can grow in sunnier places such as bogs or marshes, where many or most of the mountain sites are located.
PhenologyFruits from July to September.
IdentificationThis is an easily recognized fern of wet places, most often noted in the mountains. It has a quite narrow blade, with the short pinnae usually twisted 45-90% to be aligned diagonally to almost horizontally instead of vertically to the rachis of the blade. The fertile blades are deciduous, lanceolate, about 4-8 times longer than wide, about 15-20 inches long and only about 4 inches wide. The blade is cut pinnate-pinnatifid, with each pinna triangular and seldom more than 2 inches long, twisted to the rachis (as mentioned above). The sori are rounded and in rows under the pinnules. The shorter sterile blades are evergreen, spreading instead of erect, forming a winter "rosette", as Weakley (2018) calls it. The quite narrow blades and twisted and short pinnae -- almost ladder-like in appearance -- make this fern quite distinctive.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Crested Fern, Crested Buckler-fern
State RankS3 [S3S4]
Global RankG5
State StatusW1
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