Phegopteris is Greek for beech (phegos) and fern (pteris), and may relate to a habitat in Europe; connectilis is Latin for fasten together, which may be a reference to the wing on the fern stem (rachis) that connects all the leaflets except the down-turning, lowest leaflets (pinnae).
Moist, humusy, acidic soils.
Naturalizes as a groundcover in cool shady woodland or rock gardens.
This fern can grow in most garden soils but prefers consistently moist, humusy, acidic soil and part-shade to shade across much of the Northern Hemisphere, from horticultural zones 2 to 5, making it clearly well-suited to Maine’s northern woodlands and shady stream banks. It spreads slowly by creeping rhizomes, forming patches of 3-4 feet, sometimes tolerating rocks, ledges and dry areas in its spread.
Leaves and Stems
A pale to bright green deciduous fern, typically reaching 8-18 inches in height. It has an overall narrow triangular shape to its blade, reaching about 14 inches in length and 9 inches in width, with individual leaflets (pinnae) that are twice compound (pinnate-pinnatifid to bipinnatifid). The upper pinnae are increasingly connected into a long tapering, pointed frond, while the single bottom pinnae are separate from the others (disjunct), and turn downward, leaving a distinctive gap. Fiddleheads are hairy, with purple-brown stipes (stalk below the leaf blade). Sori (spore-producing structures) are located at the margins, with no covering flap (indusium). The leaf stalk (rachis) may appear hairy, while stipes are generally hairless, but scaled.
Non-flowering. Produces spores in July and August.
Spores from round sori on underside of leaf edges; both spore-bearing and sterile fronds are similar in appearance.
Rabbits browse on this species.
Trailing rhizomes can be divided.
None were found.
Plant Profile by Kate O’Dell