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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