Dryopteris intermedia (Glandular Wood Fern)

Plant Info
Also known as: Intermediate Wood Fern, Fancy Wood Fern
Family:Dryopteridaceae (Wood Fern)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; moist rocky woods, ravines, edges of swamps
Fruiting season:summer
Plant height:15 to 40 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: none MW: FAC NCNE: FAC
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaf] Leaf is up to 40 inches long and to 8 inches wide, generally lance-oblong in outline, twice compound though the lowest pair of branches at the base of the frond are again compound. Leaves are evergreen.

[photo of lowest branch] Leaflets are lobed, sometimes divided almost to mid-nerve, and toothed, the teeth with a bristle-like tip. Veins are forked. On the first branch at the base of the leaf, the leaflet on the lower-side of the branch closest to the stem is usually shorter than the next leaflet (see image enlargement).

[photo of stem scales] The stem is grooved with light brown scales near base while the upper portion of the stem has short glandular hairs, visible with a good hand lens. Glands are also present on the leaflet midribs.

Spores: Fruit type: spores on leaf

[photo of spores] Spores are produced in early to mid summer. The sori (group of spores) are found on the underside of the leaf. They are circular and arranged mostly in a row on each side of the mid-vein on a leaflet lobe.There is a translucent tissue (indusium) that partly covers the spores, is attached on inner curve and has glandular hairs.


Dryopteris species can be identified by the circular shaped sori that is covered by a translucent tissue. Dryopteris intermedia is most similar to D. carthusiana. The difference is that the first branch on D. carthusiana, the leaflet closest to the stem on the lower side of the branch is longer than the next leaflet, whereas the first branch on D. intermedia, the first leaflet is shorter than the next one.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Falls Creek SNA, Washington County, and at Hare Lake, Lake County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Lake County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Daisy - Lake Garfield/LaPorte
on: 2015-05-09 18:42:24

Is this the fern we can eat in the springtime? We used to eat fern tips but I don't remember which fern anymore...!

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-05-10 09:42:47

I don't know if the Dryopteris species are edible, but I suspect not.

Posted by: Cheryl
on: 2015-07-22 01:45:42

You can eat ostrich fern fiddle heads.

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