Woodwardia virginica (Linnaeus) Smith

Virginia chain fern

Etymology From the area of Virginia, which years ago was a huge territory.
Description Rhizome: long-creeping, ropelike, branching, scales dark brown, few, triangular.
Frond: 100 cm high by 30 cm wide, deciduous, monomorphic, blade/stipe ratio: 3:2.
Stipe: dark purple to black at the base, straw-colored on the upper rachis, base lustrous and swollen , glabrous, vascular bundles: 7 or 9 vascular bundles arranged in arc at stipe base, fewer at the top of the stipe.
Blade: 1-pinnate-pinnatifid , narrowly ovate, widest at the middle, thin-textured, glands and scales upon emergence with glands persisting.
Pinnae: 12 to 23 pair, alternate, middle ones to 15 cm; margins finely dentate; veins netted next to the rachis and costae, free otherwise.
Sori: in chainlike rows, but distinct, along the costae, indusium: flap-like, opening towards the costa, sporangia: purple-brown, maturity: early summer.
Dimensionality: lower pinnae bending forward and towards the base.
Culture Habitat: acidic bogs, swamps, low woods. Distribution: mainly coastal plain of eastern and southeastern North America. Hardy to -35C, USDA Zone 3.
Distinctive Characteristics The venation (netted and free, see a photo below) along with the dark stipe, 1-pinnate-pinnatifid division, linear sori precludes misidentification.
Synonyms
Blechnum virginicum Linnaeus
Anchistea virginica (Linnaeus) C. Presl
Woodwardia virginica
Woodwardia virginica. Rhizome, blade, and pinnules.  Illustration by Edgar Paulton, from How to Know the Ferns and Fern Allies, John T. Mickel, 1979 Wm. C. Brown Co.
Notes
Taxonomy Anchistea virginica is still in play as a preferred name.
Woodwardia virginica
Woodwardia virginica. Two examples of vascular bundles, 7 or 9 bundles at the stipe base (bottom pair) and 5 or 7 at the top of the stipe.  Drawing from Ferns of Northeastern United States, Farida A. Wiley, 1936.
Woodwardia virginica frond
Woodwardia virginica frond .  Photo: Hugh Wilson, from the Digital Flora of Texas
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