Views at upper right and below show spore cases on the underside of the Marginal Shield Fern's fronds.
The Marginal Shield Fern (Dryopteris marginalis) is a relatively large evergreen fern with thickset, gray-green fronds forming a cluster. In Pittsylvania County, Virginia it is found in rocky woods and slopes. I have found that local shady nooks and woodland rock revetments are usually well worth investigation, since many plants are protected by their somewhat isolation from plows and munching cattle.
The overall characteristics of this fern permit easy identification. The name “Shield Fern” refers to the shape of the indusium which is a membrane covering the sori or spore cases on the underside of the fern frond.
Also see these illustrations in larger format, and the article Ferns of Pittsylvania County, Virginia.
Copyright © 2007, 2008 William T. Hathaway.