Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Intermediate Wood-fern - Dryopteris intermedia   (Muhlenberg ex Willdenow) A. Gray
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(Muhlenberg ex Willdenow) A. Gray
DistributionThroughout the Mountains, collected from all counties. A few old collection records from the central and eastern Piedmont, but most seem to be at non-natural sites or are possibly misidentified. The website editors have included specimens at NCU from Davidson and Guilford counties. At any rate, the species is probably now of historical occurrence in this central part of the state. Small numbers occur in the northeastern Coastal Plain, but confusion with the very similar D. carthusiana is possible there.

This is a widespread Northeastern species, found across eastern Canada, south to DE, VA, and IL, and further southward mainly in the Appalachians to northern GA and northern AL.
AbundanceCommon over all of the Mountains. Seemingly now absent from the Piedmont. Very rare in the northeastern Coastal Plain.
HabitatThis fern has a wide variety of montane forested habitats, especially where rich and rocky. It grows best in Rich Cove Forests, but it also is found in Acidic Cove Forests, Northern Hardwood Forests, Boulderfield Forests, and around forested seepages.
PhenologyFruits from June to September.
IdentificationThis is a familiar montane fern -- often known as Fancy Fern -- often seen on walks in cove forests. It is one of just of few lacy-cut ferns that is evergreen, despite the blade not being thick and coriaceous. The stipe is often 8-10 inches long, and the blade is considerably longer, oblong-ovate in shape, about 15 inches long and 7-8 inches wide, cut bipinnate-pinnatifid to almost tripinnate. The species can be easily confused with the equally-dissected D. campyloptera, which grows in high elevation forests but can occur perhaps in the same places. In D. campyloptera, on the lowest pinna the first pinnule on the bottom is longer than the second pinnule on the bottom (and thus the whole pinna has a triangular shape). In D. intermedia, this first bottom pinnule of the lowest pinna is distinctly shorter than the second pinnule, and thus the basal pinna is tapered to the base. Also, the blade of D. intermedia is more parallel-sided (upper pinnae almost as long as most lower ones except near the apex), whereas D. campyloptera is distinctly triangular shaped. The sori are rounded and in rows on the undersides of the pinnules, in all Dryopteris species.
Taxonomic CommentsA few older references had this taxon as a variety of other species -- D. austriaca var. intermedia or D. spinulosa var. intermedia.

Other Common Name(s)Evergreen Wood-fern, Fancy Fern, Common Wood-fern
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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