Thelypteris kunthii (Desv.) Morton
Wood Fern, River Fern, Southern Shield Fern, Kunth's Maiden Fern, Normal Shield Fern
Thelypteridaceae (Marsh Fern Family)
Synonym(s): Dryopteris normalis, Dryopteris saxatilis, Thelypteris macrorhizoma, Thelypteris normalis, Thelypteris saxatilis, Thelypteris unca
USDA Symbol: THKU
The gracefully arching fronds of this fern are lime to medium-green in color and grow 2 1/2-3 ft. high by 8-12 in. wide. The fronds reach in all directions from clusters of stalks occuring at intervals along the rhizome. The foliage is almost twice cut and the pinnae taper to a point. The species takes on a bronze cast as winter approaches.
Wood Fern can add texture to a shade garden throughout the year and is great for wetland and water garden habitat.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Retention: Semi-evergreen
Size Notes: 2.5-3 ft, but can reach 5 ft
Size Class: 1-3 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Not Applicable
Bloom Notes: Not a flowering plant. Reproduces by spores.
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , FL , GA , LA , MS , SC , TX
Native Distribution: SC to FL, w. to west TX and s. to Caribbean islands
Native Habitat: Swamps, canyons; stream banks; low woods; dripping limestone
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Moist sand, loam, clay, or limestone. Poor drainage okay.
Conditions Comments: West of east Texas, called River Fern because it is only found along or near bodies of water. East of central Texas, found in moist woods and called Wood Fern.
BenefitUse Ornamental: A low maintenance groundcover fern for shade
Interesting Foliage: yes
Deer Resistant: High
PropagationPropagation Material: Root Division
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Water during droughts. Cut back dead fronds before spring growth emerges.
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Austin Shade Plants for Pots
March 28, 2010
I live in a condo in Austin Texas so I don't have any flower beds or yard space. I would like to put a few large pots of plants and flowers on my front patio but it's mostly shaded during the day. W...
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Native plants for seasonal poor drainage
May 16, 2006
I have an area in my front yard that has a drainage ditch running through it. When it rains, that area stays very wet. What kind of plants available for sale will work in this situation?
view the full question and answer
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Native Plant Society of Texas - Fredericksburg, TX
NPSOT - Fredericksburg Chapter - Fredericksburg, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
Herbarium Specimen(s)NPSOT 1004 Collected Nov 4, 1994 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe
BibliographyBibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 281 - Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas (1999) Diggs, G. M.; B. L. Lipscomb; B. O'Kennon; W. F...
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Research LiteratureReslit 2636 - Developmental gametophyte morphology of seven species of Thelypteris subg. Cyclosorus (Thelypteridaceae) (2008) M. E. Muniz-Diaz De Leon, B. Perez-Garcia, J. Marq...
Reslit 2637 - Controlled freezing of twenty-three container-grown herbaceous perennials (1995) T. A. Herrick, L. P. Perry
Reslit 2638 - Isoprene emissions and photosynthesis in three fernsthe influence of light and temperature (1987) D. T. Tingey, R. C. Evans, E. H. Bates, M. L. Gump...
Reslit 2639 - Photocontrol of spore germination in the fern Thelypteris kunthii (1981) C. S. Huckaby, V. Raghavan
This information was provided by the Florida WIldflower Foundation.
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Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Thelypteris kunthii in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Thelypteris kunthii in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Thelypteris kunthii
MetadataRecord Modified: 2014-08-20
Research By: LAL, JMS