Bogs and Acidic Peatlands of Southern New England by Marsha C. Salett
Woodwardia virginica (L.) J.E. Smith
BLECHNACEAE (Chain-Fern Family)
EtymologyWoodwardia is named for the English botanist, Thomas Jenkinson Woodward (1745-1820); virginicum is Latin for from or of Virginia, in reference to The Virgin Queen, Elizabeth 1 of England (1533-1603).
Synonyms (Common Name)Eastern Chain-fern
DescriptionA twice-cut -- or bipinnate -- medium-tall (to 4'), leathery fern, Virginia chain-fern grows from creeping rhizomes. It thrives in acidic, wet or muddy habitats. The shiny, dark, purplish-brown stalks and chainlike venation are distinguishing characteristics of Virginia chain-fern.
Wetland indicator statusOBL
Plant Height2-4 feet
LeavesFronds alike: twice-cut, oblong to narrowly lanceolate, to 20" tall and 12" wide, broadest in the middle, with 15-20 pairs of alternate, upturned, pinnate leaflets (pinnae); leaflets with 15-20 pairs of ovate to oblong subleaflets (pinnules); midveins of pinnae and pinnules form chainlike pattern.
Fruiting PeriodJune-August.
HabitatSwamps, fens, bogs, wet woods, acidic soils; often rooted in water.
RangeNova Scotia to Ontario and Michigan, south to Illinois, Florida and Texas.
(c) 1998-2006 Marsha C. Salett