Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Marginal Wood-fern - Dryopteris marginalis   (L.) 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(L.) A. Gray
DistributionThroughout the Mountains; nearly throughout the Piedmont, but quite scarce in some of the far eastern counties. Not found in the Sandhills or the Coastal Plain.

This is a widespread Eastern species, ranging from Newf to Ont and MI south to central GA, central AL, and TX.
AbundanceFrequent to common in the Mountains and Piedmont foothills; uncommon to infrequent in most of remainder of the Piedmont, but rare in counties close to the Fall Line (Deep River in Moore Co. and Cape Fear River in Harnett Co.).
HabitatThis is a species of rocky forests, but with a variety of settings and rock types. It typically grows at smaller rock outcroppings, in boulderfields, ledges along creeks, and other similar places -- usually where shaded and with some humidity or moisture. It is not a species usually seen at dry cliffs and rocky summits.
PhenologyFruits from June to September.
IdentificationThis is a familiar montane fern of shaded and rocky places, especially on walks in fall, winter, or early spring, as it has evergreen fronds that lie on the ground or on rocks in the colder months. The stipe is about 6 inches long, with a much longer blade, lanceolate in shape and about 18-20 inches long and 6 inches wide. The thick and coriaceous blade is pinnate-pinnatifid, such that it is not a lacy-cut species like some other montane Dryopteris species such as D. intermedia and D. campyloptera. There are about 15-20 pairs of pinnae, each narrowly lanceolate to oblong and about 3 inches long. This species is readily separated from all similar ferns in that the rounded sori on the blade undersides are located along the pinnule margins, typically one sorus near each cut between pinnules; other Dryopteris species have paired sori along the pinnule midribs.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Marginal Shield-fern, Evergreen Wood-fern
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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B.A. SorrieMoore County Piedmont, mesic rocky slope. MoorePhoto_natural
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