Dryopteris goldiana (Goldie's Fern)
|Also known as:||Giant Wood Fern|
|Family:||Dryopteridaceae (Wood Fern)|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; average to moist; hardwood forest, ravines, along streams, swamp and seep edges|
|Plant height:||30 to 48 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: none MW: FAC NCNE: FAC|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Leaves and stems:
Leaves are compound, generally egg-shaped in outline, abruptly tapering at the tip end, 15 to 48 inches long, 6 to 16 inches wide, with 12 to 20 pairs of branches (pinnae). Branches are mostly oblong in outline, abruptly tapering to a point, the lowest pair of branches are more oval-elliptic in outline and may be twice compound. A branch has up to 24 pairs of leaflets (pinnules) in an opposite formation. Leaflets are shallowly toothed, rounded at the tip, and have forked veins.
Stems are grooved, the lower stem densely covered in large scales, most dark brown with lighter edging; the upper stem sparsely covered in tan scales. The plant grows in an asymmetrical clump, the fronds spreading in all directions, from nearly prostrate to arching to erect.
The sori (group of spores) are found on the underside of the leaf. They are circular and arranged in 2 rows, 1 on each side of the mid-vein of a leaflet. A kidney-shaped, translucent tissue (indusium) partly covers the spores and is attached on inner curve. Spores ripen to dark brown or black. Not all leaves have spores and there is no visible difference between fertile and sterile leaves.
Goldie's Fern is a large fern found in rich, hardwood forest, and not likely to be confused with other ferns—the large scales at the base of the stems, shallowly toothed leaflets, and rows of sori along the midvein along with the large leaves make this a pretty distinctive species. It is also a rare species in Minnesota, as we are at the northwest tip of its range. According to the DNR, about 50 occurrences were known as of 2008, most in the southeast counties with a few disjunct populations in the north central counties. It was listed as a Special Concern species in 1984.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Winona County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?