Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Broad Beech Fern - Phegopteris hexagonoptera   (Michaux) Fee
Members of Thelypteridaceae:
Members of Phegopteris with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 2 » Order Polypodiales » Family Thelypteridaceae
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Author(Michaux) Fee
DistributionThroughout the Mountains and Piedmont, and with a gap to the eastern Coastal Plain. Rare to absent in parts of the eastern coastal counties and the southwestern Coastal Plain, including the Sandhills proper.

Ranges from Que to Ont and MN, south to northern FL and eastern TX.
AbundanceCommon in the Mountains; fairly common to common in the Piedmont, but less numerous there. Locally infrequent to uncommon in the eastern Coastal Plain and along brownwater rivers, but rare to absent in much of the southwestern Coastal Plain.
HabitatThis is a species of mesic to rich hardwood forests, mainly on slopes and less so in floodplains. It grows best in Rich Cove Forests and Basic Mesic Forests, but it is numerous in the richer parts of Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forests and other mesic to rich hardwood forest types.
PhenologyFruits from April to August.
IdentificationThis is the familiar triangular-shaped fern of moist hardwood forests. It has a long stipe, often 1 foot or more; the triangular blade averages about 8-10 inches long and wide, it being pinnate-pinnatifid. There are 9-13 pairs of opposite pinnae below the mostly unsegmented tip of the blade, the longest at the base (about 4 inches long). The lowest pair of pinnae often grow downward at an angle to the stipe/rachis, and thus not parallel to the ones above them. The pinnae have numerous pinnules not quite cut to the midrib. In this species, there are "wings" of tissue at the bases of the lower several pinnae that essentially connect one pinna to another above it. This is a distinctive character, whereas the similar P. connectilis, which grows in cool climates and essentially on damp rock faces, has the pinnae sessile but with no wings along the lower part of the rachis. Both species have numerous rounded sori under each pinnule.
Taxonomic CommentsMost older references named the species as Thelypteris hexagonoptera.

Other Common Name(s)Southern Beech Fern
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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B.A. SorrieRich mesic forest, Piedmont of Moore Co. May 2016. MoorePhoto_natural
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