Netted Chain Fern

Netted_Chain_Fern_jpgGenerally, ferns grow in cool, shady conditions where there is a plentiful supply of groundwater.  The name, Netted Chain Fern is derived from the arrangement of the spores born in a linear fashion on the underside of a fertile leaf—like a chain. A few ferns have two kinds of fronds–large sterile (vegetative) and smaller fertile (reproductive) ones. The seeds of ferns, properly defined as spores, have been thought to posses mythical properties that were most powerful during the summer and winter solstices. At Christmas the spores symbolized the hidden fire of the winter sun, while in summer fern spores collected within three days of Midsummer’s Eve and were said to glow like gold or yellow fire.  Myth holds that whomever holds the spores on Midsummer’s Eve and climbs a mountain will discover a vein of gold.  In Russia, a similar tradition was that if the fern spores were tossed into the air on Midsummer’s Eve, treasure will be found buried at the spot where they fall. In Medieval textbooks, fern spores was believed to have the property of making a person who swallowed it invisible, defending against evil spirits, and protecting against thunder and lightning.  These beliefs encouraged growing ferns on walls and roofs of houses.


Dwarf Chain Fern


Woodwardia aerolata


Freshwater Wetlands






to 12 inches



Nova Scotia to Florida ~ Statewide in New Jersey, infrequent in northern New Jersey



Rhizomatous (bearing underground stems), rhizomes slender ~ Leave (frond) consist of  two rows of lateral branches along an axis, slightly toothed, fleshy, oblong to lance shaped ~