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Woodwardia virginica (Virginia chainfern)
Cressler, Alan

Woodwardia virginica

Woodwardia virginica (L.) Sm.

Virginia Chainfern, Virginia Chain Fern

Blechnaceae (Chain fern Family)

Synonym(s): Anchistea virginica


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

Virginia chain fern is a 2-3 ft. fern with thick black stems arising singly from a fast-creeping rhizome. Fertile and sterile fronds are similar. Fronds are leathery and have such deeply cut leaflets, they could almost be considered twice-pinnate. The frond is broadest in the middle and dark-green turning bronze in the fall.


From the Image Gallery

12 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb , Fern
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Not Applicable
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
Bloom Notes: Not a flowering plant. Reproduces by spores.


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WV
Canada: NB , NS , ON , PE
Native Distribution: N.S. to FL, LA & AR, chiefly along the coast; also inland in the Great Lakes region
Native Habitat: Swamps, Still water, Stream, river banks, Near lakes or ponds

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Moist to wet acid soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay Calcareous, Acid-based
Conditions Comments: This aggressive fern will quickly take over a small garden. It is best planted in large, water-logged areas where little else will grow.


Propagation Material: Root Division
Description: Propagate by spores or rhizome division.
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes

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:

Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2014-09-10
Research By: TWC Staff

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