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Dryopteris carthusiana (Spinulose woodfern)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Dryopteris carthusiana

Dryopteris carthusiana (Vill.) H.P. Fuchs

Spinulose Woodfern, Spinulose Wood Fern, Shield Fern, Toothed Wood Fern

Dryopteridaceae (Wood Fern Family)

Synonym(s): Dryopteris austriaca var. spinulosa, Dryopteris spinulosa

USDA Symbol: drca11

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

The 18-30 in., narrow, finely-divided, lacy fronds appear early in spring in a vase-like cluster. Sterile fronds are evergreen.


From the Image Gallery

1 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb , Fern
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Size Notes: Fronds up to about 30 inches long.

Bloom Information

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


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , IA , ID , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV
Canada: NL , NS , ON , PE
Native Distribution: Lab. to AK, s. to SC, AR, ID & n.w. CA
Native Habitat: Swamps; wet woods; rocky slopes

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Acidic, humus-rich, moist, well-drained soil.
Conditions Comments: This fern is relatively pest- and disease-free. The western variety is Dryopteris spinulosa var. dilatata or Dryopteris dilatata.


Description: Propagation by division or spores. Sow spores on moist, sterile medium. Keep gametophytes in a sealed, humid container. After sporophytes develop, transplant to potting soil in a humid container until root system has developed.
Seed Collection: Collect spores when the sori become dark and the indusia open to release a fine, black powder. This may occur anytime from late spring to frost. Cut the fertile fronds and place in an envelope, storing near a light bulb for a few days to dry out moisture. Sift out leaves and debris and store spores in a cool, dry place.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Evergreen plants safe for horses in Louisville, Kentucky
May 16, 2010
I have a horse farm in Louisville, Ky. I want to plant evergreen plants along the walls in front of the horse barns. What types of plants are not toxic to horses can I use? Thank you so much for all y...
view the full question and answer

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:

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


Record Modified: 2023-02-07
Research By: TWC Staff

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