Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Osmunda claytoniana L.
- Family: Royal Fern (Osmundaceae)
- Spores: Spring and Summer
- Field Marks: This species is readily recognized by the reduced fertile leaf segments midway
between sterile leaf segments toward the tip and the base of the plant.
- Habitat: Wet woods, thickets, swamps, open pastures.
- Habit: Perennial fern from thickened rhizomes and fibrous roots.
- Stems: Only present as rhizomes.
- Leaves: Large, erect, up to 4 feet tall; outer series of leaves sterile, broadest near the middle, with up
to 26 pairs of leaflets, each leaflet with up to 20 pairs of lobes, without teeth, hairy when young but
smooth at maturity; inner series of leaves either all sterile, or with fertile leaflets midway between
lower and upper sterile leaflets; leaf stalks usually woolly at first, becoming smooth.
- Reproductive Structures: Fertile leaflets 1-6 pairs, up to 1 3/4 inches long, bearing numerous
spherical brown sporangia.
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