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Onoclea sensibilis L.

Sensitive fern, bead fern, meadow brake

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionPteridophytaFerns
ClassFilicopsida“Leptosporangiate” (has to do with how their spores form) ferns—includes most ferns
OrderPolypodialesPolypod ferns
FamilyDryopteridaceaeWood ferns (about 70% of the ferns)
GenusOnoclea
Speciessensibilis

About plant names...

Sensitive fern is common in temperate regions of Asia and North America. Its common and species names reflects the fact that its fronds give out at the first sign of frost (though its roots remain intact for next spring). Onoclea, from Greek meaning “closed vessel,” refers to the closely rolled fertile fronds. This genus has only a single species.

Identification: This robust fern favors wet areas, where its roots put up irregular rows of erect or tilted fronds. Young stems are red, and the emerging “fiddleheads” are pale red. Sterile fronds are 8-40" (20-101 cm) long, with 8-12 pairs of opposing light green pinnae (leaflets). Fertile fronds are 10-20" (25-50 cm) long, composed of pinnae so tightly rolled up as to resemble beads—the sori are inside the rolled leaves. The “beads” are ¹/₁₆-⅛" (2-4 mm) around. In winter, the sterile fronds die back and disappear, but the fertile fronds, now dark brown and hard, remain as an unmistakable sign of this species.

Online References:

Onoclea sensibilis on Earl J.S. Rook's Flora, Fauna, Earth, and Sky ... The Natural History of the Northwoods

Onoclea sensibilis at Illinois Wildflowers

Onoclea sensibilis on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Onoclea sensibilis on the Connecticut Botanical Society's Connecticut wildflowers site

References:

Cobb, Boughton, Farnsworth, Elizabeth & Lowe, Cheryl, Peterson Field Guides: A Field Guide to Ferns and Their Related Families of Northwestern and Central North America, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005, p. 168

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern, meadow brake)

4/19/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 3½ × 2' (1 × 0.7 m)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern, meadow brake)

4/6/2021 · Otter Brook Trail, Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, Harpswell, Maine
≈ 3½ × 6" (9.5 × 14 cm)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern, meadow brake)

5/29/2010 · Maine Audubon Gilsland Farm Audubon Center, Falmouth, Maine
≈ 31 × 21" (78 × 52 cm)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern, meadow brake)

5/4/2017 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 10 × 6" (24 × 16 cm)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern, meadow brake)

4/8/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 6 × 9" (14 × 22 cm)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern, meadow brake)

6/15/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 24 × 16" (62 × 41 cm)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern, meadow brake)

4/6/2021 · Otter Brook Trail, Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, Harpswell, Maine
≈ 3½ × 6" (8.8 × 14 cm)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern, meadow brake)

5/29/2010 · Maine Audubon Gilsland Farm Audubon Center, Falmouth, Maine
≈ 24 × 16" (62 × 41 cm)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern, meadow brake)

8/8/2010 · Jeff Smith Trail, Beaver Brook Association Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, New Hamp­shire
≈ 4 × 6" (10 × 16 cm) ID is uncertain

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern, meadow brake)

5/29/2010 · Maine Audubon Gilsland Farm Audubon Center, Falmouth, Maine
≈ 24 × 16" (62 × 41 cm)

Angiopteris sensibilis

Calypterium sensibile

Onodea augescens

Onodea interrupta

Onodea obtusilobata

Ragiopteris obtusilobata

Ragiopteris onocleoides

Riedlea sensibilis

 

Onoclea sensibilis description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 17 Aug 2021.

© FloraFinder.org. All rights reserved.


 

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern, meadow brake)

6/15/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern, meadow brake)

5/4/2017 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 5 × 6" (13 × 15 cm)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern, meadow brake)

4/21/2021 · Center Pond Preserve, Phippsburg, Maine
≈ 4 × 6" (10 × 14 cm)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern, meadow brake)

4/21/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 6 × 6" (16 × 15 cm)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern, meadow brake)

4/28/2014 · Big Bear Mountain, Brookline, New Hamp­shire
≈ 6 × 9" (16 × 21 cm)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern, meadow brake)

5/2/2012 · Nashua River Rail Trail, East Pepperell, Pepperell, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern, meadow brake)

4/23/2016 · Big Tree/Porcupine Trail, Beaver, Hollis, Mass­a­chu­setts

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern, meadow brake)

5/2/2012 · Nashua River Rail Trail, East Pepperell, Pepperell, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 8 × 6" (21 × 15 cm)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern, meadow brake)

8/16/2014 · White Mountains, New Hamp­shire
≈ 7 × 9" (17 × 23 cm)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern, meadow brake)

8/8/2010 · Jeff Smith Trail, Beaver Brook Association Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, New Hamp­shire
≈ 4 × 6" (10 × 14 cm) ID is uncertain

Range: Zones 4-8:

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