Lady Fern - Southern Lady Fern - Lowland Lady Fern
Common Lady-fern
Athyrium asplenioides - (Michaux) A.A. Eaton
Athyriaceae Family

The Lady Fern is commonly split into two species, A. angustum (Narrow Lady Fern) and A. asplenioides (Southern Lady Fern). The Southern Lady Fern has a broader frond, especially at the base. In both species the fronds arise from a central point as a clump rather than along a rhizome. The plant features lacy-cut, erect or ascending, 2 to 3 leaflet that may be finely divided, but not all the way down to the central axis. The leaflets are lance-like; light green in color that present in a dense circular shuttlecock-like clump.

Each frond has 20 to 30 pairs of elliptic leaflets that are arranged in an alternate fashion along the stem with narrow pointed tips. Each leaflet is divided into deeply-cut lance-like to oblong sub-leaflets. Spores and the mucus-like coating are found on the undersides of the leaflets. The deciduous fronds are light yellow-green, up to 35 inches long and about 10 inches broad.

Spores appear as dots on the underside of the frond, 1 to 6 per leaflet and covered by a prominently whitish to brown reniform (kidney-shaped) membrane. Fronds are very dissected, being 3-pinnate. The stem may bear long, pale brown, papery scales at the base. The spores are yellow to dark brown.

This is a circumglobal species which is found in rich moist woods, thickets, fields, meadows and ravines throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

The genus name comes from Greek athyros meaning doorless in reference to the slowly opening hinged spore covers. The specific epithet comes from Latin filix meaning fern and femina meaning woman as confirmed by the common name of lady fern.

Lady Fern is easily grown in rich, medium moisture, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade. It tolerates drier soils than many other ferns and will tolerate full sun, however, only if the soil is kept constantly moist and sheltered from wind to protect fronds from breaking.

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