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Woodwardia resources
Flora of North AmericaFlora of North America
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Woodwardia Smith (Blechnaceae) Earlier placement: Polypodiaceae

Chain fern

Etymology Named for Thomas Jenkinson Woodward, (1745-1820), an English botanist.
Description Rhizome: long-creeping, scales.
Frond: deciduous, monomorphic or dimorphic.
Stipe: scaly or not, vascular bundles: variable.
Blade: pinnatifid to 1-pinnate-pinnatifid, thin-textured, scales on emergence in W. areolata, but glabrous later.
veins free or partly netted.
Sori: in chainlike rows, but distinct, along the costae, indusium: flap-like, opening towards the costa.
Distinctive Characteristics Linear sori adjacent to the costae characterize Woodwardia.
W. virginica: chains of sori
Woodwardia is characterized by chains of sori as shown here.  Photo: Dennis Woodland
Taxonomy The two species here have little in common. W. areolata is dimorphic, W. virginica monomorphic. W. areolata is net-veined throughout; W. virginica is basically free-veined with a net surrounding the sori. W. areolata has 2 vascular bundles; W. virginica has 7-9 at the base. W. areolata has scaly stipes; W. virginica is glabrous. These species were once in separate genera, and such (or fewer) differences continue to be regarded as sufficient to justify separation; FNA (see the resource above, left) intimates there is disagreement.
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