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Woodwardia areolata (Netted chainfern)
Cressler, Alan

Woodwardia areolata

Woodwardia areolata (L.) T. Moore

Netted Chainfern, Chain Fern, Netted Chain Fern

Blechnaceae (Chain fern Family)

Synonym(s): Lorinseria areolata

USDA Symbol: woar

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

Netted chain fern is a deciduous, colony-forming, waxy green fern which stands 1-2 ft. high and has fronds 4-8 in. wide. The sterile fronds are deeply lobed, and the veins in the leaf form a net-like pattern. The fertile fronds are similar but reduced in width. The entire plant maintains a neat, compact form. Fiddleheads are bronzy and appear in early spring.

Netted chain fern is a well-mannered fern, providing a ground cover for wet, shady places. It colonizes by shallow, slender, brown rhizomes.


From the Image Gallery

10 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Fern
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Size Notes: 12 to 30 inches high
Leaf: Of two types: sterile leaves deeply pinnatifid or once-pinnate, up to 2 feet long, on purplish brown stalks, with each segment coarsely toothed or pinnatifid, smooth, pointed at the tip; fertile leaves erect, much narrower, on purplish brown stalks.
Flower: Sori elongated, narrow, in parallel rows, one row on each side of the midvein.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Not Applicable
Bloom Notes: Non-flowering, sporulating plant. Sporulates Jul - Oct.


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , WV
Canada: NS
Native Distribution: N.S. through MI & s. IL to MO, s. to FL & TX, Zones 5 to 9
Native Habitat: Swamps, Marshes, Still water edges, Moist woods, Floodplains

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium , High
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Wet, acid soils. Acid-based, Calcareous, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay. Tolerates brackish soils.


Use Ornamental: Water garden, bog, or pond area
Use Wildlife: Provides shelter for frogs, toads, newts.
Interesting Foliage: yes


Propagation Material: Root Division
Description: Propagate by spores or rhizome division.
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 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2014-07-18
Research By: TWC Staff

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