Sensitive Fern

Sensitive_Fern_jpgThe Sensitive Fern is found on wet rich ground of marshes and swamps or shaded soil of open woods. Sensitive Fern is sensitive to early frost and, presumably it is named for this characteristic. Despite the widespread availability of ferns, wildlife use them only to a minor extent. The minute size of fern spores eliminate them as a significance food.  Their leaves are eaten by several wildlife species. People may use young fiddleheads, still tightly curled, in salads or cooked like asparagus.

 

OtherCommonName:

ScientificName:

Onoclea sensibilis

Community:

Thicket

PlantStatus:

Native

LifeSpan:

Perennial

PlantHeight:

15 to 30 inches

FruitingTime:

none, has spores

Distribution:

Newfoundland to Florida and west to Minnesota ~ Statewide in New Jersey, rare in Pine Barrens

FloweringTime:

Non-flowering plant ~ Spores late June to October

IdentifyingCharacteristics:

Fronds pinnate ~ Sterile fronds, finely veined, divided on lower portion and lobed toward tip, 2 to 16 pairs of spreading-ascending lance shaped segments ~ Fertile fronds brown to black with age, beaded, conspicuous in winter ~ Rhizomes creeping and forking