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Dryopteris marginalis (L.) A. Gray
Marginal Woodfern, Marginal Fern, Marginal Shieldfern
Dryopteridaceae (Wood Fern Family)
USDA Symbol: drma4
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N), GL (N)
The broad, dark, leathery, twice-pinnate, evergreen fronds of marginal wood fern are from 1-3 ft. high and as much as 10 in. wide. They arise in vase-like circles from the rootstock, which has a 1 to 4 inch-high crown and sends out shallow, non-colonizing roots radially. Fiddleheads arise in spring and are golden brown and furry.
A well-behaved, non-colonizing fern for the cool, eastern woodland landscape, this fern never becomes aggressive. In snowy winters, it can be glimpsed protruding through blankets of snow, its blue-green coloration in stately contrast to the surrounding white.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Size Notes: Normally about 20 inches tall, but can reach 3 feet
Leaf: Dark green
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Not Applicable
Bloom Notes: Not a flowering plant. Reproduces by spores.
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON
Native Distribution: New England to e. Ont., s. to GA, TN, AR, e. OK, & e. KS. Eastern North America, Zones 5 to 7.
Native Habitat: Moist woods and ravines; Shaded, sandstone crevices; Rocky ledges
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium , High
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Moist, rocky, acidic, humus-rich soil. Tolerates lime.
Conditions Comments: This fern likes an oak leaf winter cover. Rather sensitive to heat.
BenefitUse Ornamental: An evergreen, clumping fern for cool eastern woodland landscapes
Use Wildlife: Provides cover for toads and lizards
Interesting Foliage: yes
PropagationPropagation Material: Root Division
Description: Propagate by root crown division and from spores.
Commercially Avail: yes
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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:
Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College, The - Valhalla, NY
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Stengl Biological Research Station - Smithville, TX
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
BibliographyBibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 1231 - Guide To the Ferns of Grey and Bruce Counties, Ontario (1999) Owen Sound Field Naturalists
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
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Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Dryopteris marginalis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Dryopteris marginalis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Dryopteris marginalis
MetadataRecord Modified: 2013-09-09
Research By: TWC Staff