categoryZFerns Ferns List 

LADY FERN

Athyrium filix-femina

Lady-fern [Woodsiaceae]

Fronds:
fronds8apr fronds8april fronds8may fronds8jun fronds8jul fronds8aug fronds8sep fronds8oct fronds8nov

Spores:
spores8aug spores8sep spores8sept spores8oct spores8nov

category
category8Ferns
status
statusZnative
toxicity
toxicityZhigh

14th July 2009, a garden, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Many atypical variants of Lady Fern are cultivated for garden use, but this specimen, although growing in a garden, appears to be within the normal variability of Lady Fern itself (expert verified). Grows up to 1.5m in tufts. Has lighter green fronds and is more graceful and dainty than Male Fern, Dryopteris filix-mas (which is also in a differing Genus, Dryopteris)


14th July 2009, a garden, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Bottom leaf pairs often much smaller and swept backwards (but so do many other ferns).


14th July 2009, a garden, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Fronds bi-pinnate. Outline of frond tapers at both ends, but outline of pinnae on the frond triangular.


14th July 2009, a garden, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
The rachis (stem of frond) has a groove in the upper surface.


14th July 2009, a garden, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Pinnules much more deeply toothed than those of Male Fern.


14th July 2009, a garden, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Several differing sizes of teeth on each pinnule.


14th July 2009, a garden, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
The underside of the frond, the rachis without a groove. This one lacking sori altogether.


14th July 2009, a garden, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Un-ripe sori on the pinnules. They are covered by a thin membraneous tissue called the indusium.


14th July 2009, a garden, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Un-ripe sori in close-up.


14th July 2009, a garden, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Ripe sori are long and curved.


14th July 2009, a garden, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
The sori of Lady Fern look like curled-up miniature slugs, brown on the outer side and much white on the inner side.


26th April 2014, woodland, Runcorn East, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Comparison of, top to bottom: Common Male Fern, Lady Fern and Broad Buckler Fern on 5mm squared paper.


Easily confused with : other FERNS, but note the characteristics captioned under the photos.

Quite different to : Alpine Lady Fern (Athyrium distentifolium) [which has round sori rather than curved] and to Scottish Lady Fern (Athyrium flexile) which although of the same genus, are much rarer, the Scottish one especially so. Both of these grow only in some high Scottish mountains.

Fronds bi-pinnate.

Habitat: damp woods, hedge banks, rocks, streamsides, mountains. Widespread, but mainly growing on acid soils in the West of the UK, missing out Lincolnshire.

Both Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas) and Lady Fern are said to contain a toxic oleoresin called Filicic Acid which has the ability to paralyse tapeworms and other intestinal parasites. The roots of this species of fern contain between 1.5 - 2,5% of Filicaic Acid. Its use medicinally should only be practised by qualified practitioners and be followed by a non-oily purgative such as magnesium sulfate (MgSO4 Epsom Salts), after all, it is poisonous!


  Athyrium filix-femina  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Woodsiaceae  

Distribution
 family8Lady-fern family8Woodsiaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Athyrium
Athyrium
(Lady-Ferns)

LADY FERN

Athyrium filix-femina

Lady-fern [Woodsiaceae]

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