Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Crested Shield Fern
Dryopteris cristata (L.) Gray
- Family: Fern (Polypodiaceae)
- Spores: June-August
- Field Marks: This fern is distinguished by its 1 1/2-pinnate leaves, the fertile ones much
than the sterile ones. The spherical sori are borne midway between the edge of the leaf and
the midnerve and are covered by a kidney-shaped sheath (indusium). The basal segments
the leaf are much shorter and more triangular in outline that the upper segments.
- Habitat: Swamps, wet woods, bogs.
- Habit: Rather coarse fern from a stout creeping rhizome, the base of the plant covered by the bases
of last year's leaves.
- Stems: All underground.
- Leaves: Fertile leaves 1 1/2-pinnate, up to 2 feet long, deciduous, with stout stalks bearing cinnamon
or pale brown scales; fertile leaves evergreen, longer than sterile leaves, the segments of the fertile
leaves triangular-ovate, pointed at the tip, often twisted at the base, coarsely toothed or deeply
lobed, up to 3 1/2 inches long.
- Flowers: Borne in spherical sori, the sori situated midway between the edge of the leaf and the
midnerve, partially covered by a kidney-shaped sheath (indusium).
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