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Dennstaedtia punctilobula (Eastern hay-scented fern)
Cressler, Alan

Dennstaedtia punctilobula

Dennstaedtia punctilobula (Michx.) T. Moore

Eastern Hay-scented Fern

Dennstaedtiaceae (Bracken Fern Family)


USDA Symbol: DEPU2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

The fronds of Eastern hay-scented fern are as much as a foot wide and occur singly in large colonies. The foliage is medium green and two or three times cut, yielding a fine texture. The most striking thing about this 1-4 ft. fern is the soft, hairy surface of its fronds.

From a distance, Hay-scented fern can be confused with Lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina) or Silvery glade fern (Deparia acrostichoides), but it may be recognized by the sweet scent of new mown hay which is released when the blade is crushed between the fingers or when it is dried.


From the Image Gallery

5 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb , Fern
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Size Notes: Up to about 4 feet tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Not Applicable
Bloom Notes: Not a flowering plant. Reproduces by spores.


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , GA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MO , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE
Native Distribution: GA & AL to AR, n. to s. Nf., s.w. Que., MI, s. IL & MO
Native Habitat: Rocky, open woods; shady places; damp slopes

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained, somewhat sterile soil.


Interesting Foliage: yes
Fragrant Foliage: yes


Description: Propagate by spores or rhizome division. Cut rhizomes between fronds, set apart and trim back at least half of each frond.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Dennstaedtia punctilobula in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Dennstaedtia punctilobula in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Dennstaedtia punctilobula


Record Modified: 2023-02-06
Research By: TWC Staff

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