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SPECIES:  Athyrium filix-femina
Common ladyfern at Rancho Del Oso Nature Center, 
Santa Cruz County, CA. Photo by Barry 


SPECIES: Athyrium filix-femina
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Walkup, Crystal J. 1991. Athyrium filix-femina. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: /database/feis/plants/fern/athfil/all.html []. Revisions : The Taxonomy and Synonyms sections were revised on 8 January 2015, and citations were added [37,40] to suport these changes. Photos were also added at that time.
ABBREVIATION : ATHFIL NRCS PLANT CODE [37]: ATFI COMMON NAMES : common ladyfern lady fern TAXONOMY : The scientific name for common ladyfern is Athyrium filix-femina (L.) Roth (Dryopteridaceae) [12,39,40]. Recognized infrataxa are as follows [37]: Athyrium filix-femina subsp. angustum (Willd.) Clausen, subarctic common ladyfern Athyrium filix-femina subsp. asplenioides (Michx.) Hulten, asplenium common ladyfern Athyrium filix-femina subsp. cyclosorum (Rupr.) C. Chr, subarctic common ladyfern SYNONYMS : Athyrium filix-femina var. angustum (Willdenow) G. Lawson, northern common ladyfern Athyrium filix-femina var. asplenioides (Michaux) Farwell, southern common ladyfern Athyrium filix-femina var. californicum Butters, southwestern common ladyfern Athyrium filix-femina var. cyclosorum Ruprecht, northwestern common ladyfern [40] Athyrium filix-femina var. cyclosorum (Ledeb.) Moore Athyrium filix-femina var. michauxii (Spreng.) Farw. Athyrium filix-femina var. michauxii (Spreng.) Farw. forma michauxii Athyrium filix-femina var. michauxii (Spreng.) Farw. forma elatius (Link) Clute Athyrium filix-femina var. michauxii (Spreng.) Farw. forma rubellum (Gilbert) Farw. Athyrium filix-femina var. michauxii (Spreng.) Farw. forma laurentianum (Butters) Fern. [12,39] Athyrium filix-femina var. rubellum Gilbert Athyrium filix-femina var. sitchense (Rupr.) Ledeb. (documented in [37]) LIFE FORM : Fern FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Athyrium filix-femina GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Common ladyfern is a circumpolar species, occurring from Alaska to the Atlantic, south to California, Texas, and Florida [38].  The variety cyclosorum is found from Alaska south to California; variety michauxii occurs from Labrador and Newfoundland west to northern Saskatchewan and south to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Iowa [12]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES10  White - red - jack pine    FRES11  Spruce - fir    FRES15  Oak - hickory    FRES18  Maple - beech - birch    FRES19  Aspen - birch    FRES20  Douglas-fir    FRES21  Ponderosa pine    FRES22  Western white pine    FRES23  Fir - spruce    FRES24  Hemlock - Sitka spruce    FRES25  Larch    FRES27  Redwood    FRES28  Western hardwoods    FRES37  Mountain meadows STATES :      AL  AK  AZ  AR  CA  CO  CT  DE  FL  GA      ID  IL  IN  IA  KS  KY  LA  ME  MD  MA      MI  MN  MS  MO  MT  NH  NJ  NY  NC  ND      OH  OR  PA  RI  SC  SD  TN  TX  UT  VT      VA  WA  WV  WI  WY  BC  LB  MB  NB  NF      ON  PQ  SK BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :     1  Northern Pacific Border     2  Cascade Mountains     3  Southern Pacific Border     4  Sierra Mountains     5  Columbia Plateau     8  Northern Rocky Mountains     9  Middle Rocky Mountains    11  Southern Rocky Mountains    12  Colorado Plateau    13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont    15  Black Hills Uplift KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K001  Spruce - cedar - hemlock forest    K002  Cedar - hemlock - Douglas-fir forest    K003  Silver fir - Douglas-fir forest    K004  Fir - hemlock forest    K006  Redwood forest    K007  Red fir forest    K012  Douglas-fir forest    K013  Cedar - hemlock - pine forest    K014  Grand fir - Douglas-fir forest    K015  Western spruce - fir forest    K017  Black Hills pine forest    K018  Pine - Douglas-fir forest    K020  Spruce - fir - Douglas-fir forest    K025  Alder - ash forest    K093  Great Lakes spruce - fir forest    K095  Great Lakes pine forest    K096  Northeastern spruce - fir forest    K102  Beech - maple forest    K104  Appalachian oak forest    K108  Northern hardwoods - spruce forest SAF COVER TYPES :      5  Balsam fir     12  Black spruce     16  Aspen     20  White pine - northern red oak - red maple     21  Eastern white pine     22  White pine - hemlock     23  Eastern hemlock     25  Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch     26  Sugar maple - basswood     31  Red spruce - sugar maple - beech     32  Red spruce     33  Red spruce - balsam fir     35  Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir     37  Northern white cedar     52  White oak - black oak - northern red oak     53  White oak     55  Northern red oak     60  Beech - sugar maple    201  White spruce    202  White spruce - paper birch    204  Black spruce    205  Mountain hemlock    206  Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir    207  Red fir    212  Western larch    213  Grand fir    215  Western white pine    217  Aspen    221  Red alder    223  Sitka spruce    224  Western hemlock    225  Western hemlock - Sitka spruce    226  Coastal true fir - hemlock    227  Western redcedar - western hemlock    228  Western redcedar    229  Pacific Douglas-fir    230  Douglas-fir - western hemlock    232  Redwood    237  Interior ponderosa pine    243  Sierra Nevada mixed conifer    244  Pacific ponderosa pine - Douglas-fir    251  White spruce    252  Paper birch    253  Black spruce - white spruce    254  Black spruce - paper birch SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Common ladyfern occurs as a dominant or subdominant in the following habitat type (hts), plant association (pas), riparian site type (rst), and community type (cts) classifications:      Area             Classification                    Authority n Wisconsin            forest hts               Kotar and others 1988 Washington: Mt         forest pas               Moir and others 1988   Rainier Natl Park c, e Montana           riparian veg, rst,       Boggs and others 1989                        cts, hts                  n Idaho                forest cts, hts          Cooper and others 1991 Alaska: Kenai          forest cts               Reynolds 1990   peninsula OR: Willamette Valley  forest cts               Thilenius 1968


SPECIES: Athyrium filix-femina
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : The fronds of common ladyfern provide a food source for grizzly bears [5,19,30].  Roosevelt elk consume common ladyfern in the fall on the Olympic Peninsula, but it is not a major food species [32].  It is listed as fair elk and deer food in the Olympic National Forest of Washington [14].  Common ladyfern contains filicic acid and therefore may be poisonous to some classes of livestock [14,28]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Silvicultural treatments have had variable effects on common ladyfern.  In western Montana common ladyfern was absent from logged redcedar (Thuja plicata) sites, but in black spruce (Picea mariana) clearcuts in Ontario, Canada, common ladyfern was present only on the logged sites [8]. Common ladyfern is a major competing species in boreal and sub-boreal spruce (Picea spp.) forests.  Scarification decreases presence and height of common ladyfern, thereby benefiting tree regeneration [7]. Common ladyfern may indicate high mass wasting potential when found growing vigorously or in significant numbers (coverage of 10 percent or more). Its absence, however, does not imply slope stability [27].


SPECIES: Athyrium filix-femina
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Common ladyfern is an introduced deciduous perennial fern.  Tufted, erect fronds may grow to 6.6 feet (2 m).  They spread vegetatively from stout, chaffy rhizomes.  Common ladyfern is often confused with wood fern (Dryopteris carthusiana) but can be readily distinguished by its elongate, sometimes curved (rather than round) sori, which are covered by an indusium attached on one side [12]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Cryptophyte (geophyte)
Sporangia on the underside of northwestern common ladyfern fronds. 
Photo by Charles Webber © California Academy of Sciences.
Common ladyfern reproduces by rhizomes and spores.  The spores disperse from 
the sporangia (spore-bearing case), pictured above. Following the eruption 
of Mount St. Helens, common ladyfern sprouted from axillary buds of transported
rhizomes [1]. 

Common ladyfern is found growing in meadows, open thickets, moist woods, and
occasionally in swamps [12].  In West Virginia it occurred in marshy
areas where water stood 2 to 4 inches deep (5.0 to 10.2 cm), even in the
dry season [9].  It commonly grows in the understory of western
redcedar, western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga
menziesii), white spruce (Picea glauca), and black spruce [4].  It may
reach 50 to 100 percent cover under some redcedar stands where seepage
maintains high soil moisture [36].

Elevations at which common ladyfern occurs vary by geographic location as

Location          Elevation               

Arizona           7,000 to 9,000 feet (2,134-2,743 m) [21]
California        4,000 to 9,500 feet (1,219-2,896 m) [26] 
Idaho             4,100 to 4,300 feet (1,250-1,311 m) [34] 
Utah              7,400 to 10,500 feet (2,250-3,200 m) [38]
Vermont           1,600 to 2,200 feet (480-670 m) [33]   
West Virginia     1,100 to feet (334 m) [9]
British Columbia  2,950 feet (900) [7]  
Ontario           1,000 feet (305 m) [7]
Common ladyfern can colonize cracks in rocks and crevices between rocks,
making it a true pioneer species.  More frequently it occurs as a
dominant on perennially wet soil with other herbs.  It can survive
severe battering if roots are protected and in constant contact with
water [10].

Common ladyfern is not a pioneer species in Sitka spruce floodplains on the
west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.  It appears initially
in the young seral stage under the cover of red alder (Alnus rubra), and
increases in cover value from the young seral to the mature climax
stage.  It is a dominant herb in these mature climax floodplain forests
dominated by Sitka spruce and western hemlock [11].  In Sitka
spruce-western hemlock forests of southeast Alaska, common ladyfern, along
with spreading woodfern (Dryopteris austriaca) and bunchberry (Cornus
canadensis), tends to dominate in the early stages of succession (1 to
25 years after logging) on moist microsites where tree and shrub
regeneration is sparse [2].  In Glacier National Park, Montana, common ladyfern is characteristically restricted to climax cedar-hemlock forests

Common ladyfern fronds began dropping in early October in Oregon, apparently
as a result of frost.  Usually all fronds have dropped by November [10].


SPECIES: Athyrium filix-femina
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Common ladyfern often occurs on wet sites that burn infrequently.  The redcedar/common ladyfern habitat type is characterized by infrequent (> 200 years), low-intensity fires [3]. Common ladyfern sprouts from surviving rhizomes following fire. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : survivor species; on-site surviving rhizomes


SPECIES: Athyrium filix-femina
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Common ladyfern is top-killed by fire. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Fire decreases common ladyfern cover and frequency on drier sites, but sprouting is likely on subhygric sites [20].  Common ladyfern did not survive a moderate severity fire in mature western red cedar and western hemlock stands in northern Idaho[34]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : The Research Papers (Hamilton 2006a, Hamilton 2006b) and Research Project Summary of Hamilton's studies provide information on prescribed fire and postfire response of many plant species, including common ladyfern, that was not available when this species review was originally written. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Athyrium filix-femina
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RM-81.        Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky        Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 21-26.  [12809]  4.  Bailey, Arthur Wesley. 1966. Forest associations and secondary        succession in the southern Oregon Coast Range. Corvallis, OR: Oregon        State University. 166 p. Thesis.  [5786]  5.  Banner, Allen; Pojar, Jim; Trowbridge, Rick; Hamilton, Anthony. 1986.        Grizzly bear habitat in the Kimsquit River Valley, coastal British        Columbia: classification, description, and mapping. In: Contreras, Glen        P.; Evans, Keith E., compilers. Proceedings--grizzly bear habitat        symposium; 1985 April 30 - May 2; Missoula, MT. Gen. Tech. Rep. 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