Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Kunth's Maiden-fern - Pelazoneuron kunthii   (Desvaux) A.R. Smith & S.E. Fawcett
Members of Thelypteridaceae:
Only member of Pelazoneuron in NC.
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Section 2 » Family Thelypteridaceae
Author(Desvaux) A.R. Smith & S.E. Fawcett
DistributionMostly outer Coastal Plain; disjunct inland to northern Piedmont. First collected in NC at Carolina Beach in 1974. The jury is still out whether this species is native in southeastern NC, though Weakley's (2021) map shows it as of uncertain provenance in the Coastal Plain but non-native in the Piedmont.

Native of the Americas from SC (and maybe southeastern NC) to Brazil. NC coastal populations are thought to be adventive; interior ones certainly are.
AbundanceRare near the coast, north to Craven County. Very rare and clearly escaped in the Piedmont. The NCNHP listed the species as SE (exotic) until November 2021, but has now moved the rank to SU (Undetermined), as it is not clear if this is a native species or not. As a result of the uncertainty of native status, the editors suggest a State Rank of SE?. It is now added to the Watch List (W4).
HabitatMoist woodlands and woodland edges near or over marl, rocky slope by creek (Orange Co.). Some populations grow in riprap or other piles of marl rock.
IdentificationKunth's Maiden-fern is evergreen, the fronds 2-4 feet long and widest near the base. Each pinna is narrow, taper-tipped, and once pinnate, the segments without teeth. This is a rather elegant fern. The quite similar Christella hispidula, first collected in NC in 2020, has the lowest pair or two pairs of pinnae clearly shorter than the third pair from the bottom, and thus the bottom of the blade shows some taper toward the rachis.
Taxonomic CommentsLong known as Thelypteris kunthii; it was tentatively placed in Christella by Weakley (2020), but a recent revision of the Thelypteridaceae in 2021 by Fawcett and Smith has moved this species now to the genus Pelazoneuron.

Other Common Name(s)Southern Shield-fern, Widespread Maidenfern
State RankSU [SE?]
Global RankG5
State StatusW4
US Status
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