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SPECIES:  Gymnocarpium dryopteris


SPECIES: Gymnocarpium dryopteris
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Snyder, S. A. 1993. Gymnocarpium dryopteris. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : GYMDRY SYNONYMS : Dryopteris disjuncta (Ledeb.) Mort. Dryopteris linnaeana Christens. Phegopteris dryopteris (L.) Fee Thelypteris dryopteris (L.) Slosson SCS PLANT CODE : GYDR COMMON NAMES : western oakfern oak fern TAXONOMY : The commonly accepted scientific name for western oakfern is Gymnocarpium dryopteris (L.) Newm. in the family Polypodiaceae. There are two subspecies as follows [18]: Gymnocarpium dryopteris ssp. disjunctum (Rupr.) Sarvela G. dryopteris ssp. dryopteris The synonym Dryopteris disjuncta is used frequently in the literature [8,9,22]. LIFE FORM : Fern or Fern Ally FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Gymnocarpium dryopteris
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Western oakfern has a circumboreal distribution [16].  In North America it occurs form Alaska south to isolated populations in Oregon and east across all provinces of Canada to the Atlantic Coast.  It occurs throughout New England south to Virginia and west to Ohio.  Scattered populations are found in the northern Midwest states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota, and it reaches as far south as Iowa.  Western oakfern also occurs in isolated populations of the Intermountain West and in New Mexico and Arizona [28].  Gymnocarpium dryopteris ssp. disjunctum is found along the West Coast and in parts of Idaho and eastern Washington [18]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES11  Spruce - fir    FRES18  Maple - beech - birch    FRES19  Aspen - birch    FRES20  Douglas-fir    FRES22  Western white pine    FRES23  Fir - spruce    FRES24  Hemlock - Sitka spruce    FRES25  Larch    FRES26  Lodgepole pine    FRES28  Western hardwoods STATES :      AK  AZ  CO  CT  ID  IA  ME  MD  MA  MI      MN  MT  NH  NJ  NM  NY  OH  OR  PA  RI      SD  VT  VA  WA  WV  WI  WY  AB  BC  MB      NB  NF  NT  NS  ON  PE  PQ  SK  YT BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :     1  Northern Pacific Border     2  Cascade Mountains     5  Columbia Plateau     8  Northern Rocky Mountains    11  Southern Rocky Mountains    12  Colorado Plateau KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K001  Spruce - cedar - hemlock forest    K002  Cedar - hemlock - Douglas-fir forest    K003  Silver fir - Douglas-fir forest    K004  Fir - hemlock forest    K005  Mixed conifer forest    K008  Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest    K012  Douglas-fir forest    K013  Cedar - hemlock - pine forest    K014  Grand fir - Douglas-fir forest    K015  Western spruce - fir forest    K020  Spruce - fir - Douglas-fir forest    K021  Southwestern spruce - fir forest    K093  Great Lakes spruce - fir forest    K096  Northeastern spruce - fir forest    K099  Maple - basswood forest    K102  Beech - maple forest    K103  Mixed mesophytic forest    K106  Northern hardwoods    K107  Northern hardwoods - fir forest    K108  Northern hardwoods - spruce forest SAF COVER TYPES :      5  Balsam fir     12  Black spruce     13  Black spruce - tamarack     16  Aspen     18  Paper birch     23  Eastern hemlock     25  Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch     26  Sugar maple - basswood     27  Sugar maple     35  Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir     37  Northern white-cedar     38  Tamarack     60  Beech - sugar maple    107  White spruce    201  White spruce    202  White spruce - paper birch    203  Balsam poplar    204  Black spruce    205  Mountain hemlock    206  Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir    212  Western larch    213  Grand fir    215  Western white pine    217  Aspen    218  Lodgepole pine    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    251  White spruce - aspen    252  Paper birch    253  Black spruce - white spruce    254  Black spruce -  paper birch SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Publications listing western oakfern as a dominant species are as follows: Preliminary classification of forest vegetation of the Kenai Peninsula,    Alaska [30] Forest habitat types of northern Idaho:  a second approximation [7] Classification and management of riparian and wetland sites in northwest    Montana [4]


SPECIES: Gymnocarpium dryopteris
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Grizzly bear in the Selkirk Mountains, Idaho, have been observed eating western oakfern fronds [1].  Elk on Vancouver Island eat western oakfern, but use is low in spring and summer [15]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : Because of its ease and success at transplanting, western oakfern is a desirable garden plant [16]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Western oakfern can interfere with the growth of Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) seedlings [5].  Glyphosate can injure western oakfern when applied from July to September [26].  It controls growth of western oakfern following harvesting, allowing growth of desired tree species.  Western oakfern responses to logging vary.  In areas where logging leads to decreases in site moisture, western oakfern will decrease [8].  In wet, high-elevation areas logging can increase western oakfern abundance [25].


SPECIES: Gymnocarpium dryopteris
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : The deciduous western oakfern is delicate in appearance and grows up to 11.8 inches (30 cm) tall [17].  Its petioles are 4 to 12 inches (10-30 cm) long and parallel to the ground [21].  The blade is divided into three triangular leaflets [17].  Each petiole arises from a single node on the creeping rhizome [21].  Spore covers are absent [16]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :    Chamaephyte    Geophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Western oakfern reproduces by spores and sprouts from rhizomes. The spores are adapted for high wind dispersal [18].  There is much outcrossing in this species, and no intragametophytic fertilization [18].  Spores have been found in soil seedbanks where adult plants are absent [23].  Spores have sprouted in a greenhouse from soil samples taken from beneath canopy gaps in northern hardwood forests [24]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Western oakfern occurs on mesic to wet sites in mixed conifer and northern hardwood stands [20].  Soils are moist to well-drained, with pH ranging from 4.5 to 6.4 [7,10,36].  Soil textures are gravelly or sandy to silty clay loams [4,7].  Western oakfern grows at elevations from 21 to 1,700 feet (7-518 m) in the Adirondacks [20].  In Alberta it occurs from 1,960 to 4,300 feet (600-1,300 m), and in Idaho western oakfern occurs at elevations between 2,500 and 4,500 feet (760-1,370 m) [7,10].  Western oakfern occurs on moderately steep slopes and northeast to north and west aspects [7,10]. Some plant species associated with western oakfern include Alaska-cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis), devil's club (Oplopanax horridus), alder (Alnus spp.), mountain maple (Acer spicatum), red-osier dogwood (Cornus sericea), twinberry honeysuckle (Lonicera involucrata), thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus), prickly rose (Rosa acicularis), highbush cranberry (Viburnum edule), twinflower (Linnaea borealis), heartleaf arnica (Arnica cordifolia), starry Solomon's-seal (Smilacina stellata), and bluejoint reedgrass (Calamagrostis canadensis) [7,10,12,14,17,30]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species Western oakfern is an indicator of cool, moist sites and mid- to late-seral forests [4,21,22,30]. Western oakfern will grow on disturbed sites before canopy cover is established in the subboreal spruce (Picea) zone of British Columbia [14].  It is present in that zone in both mesic seral communities and climax forests.  Similarly, in spruce-hemlock (Tsuga) forests of southeast Alaska western oakfern will begin establishing in 25- to 35-year-old stands following disturbance by logging or fire [1].  They will then dominate the understory for the following century.  Western oakfern has been used as a site-quality indicator species on lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) and white spruce (Picea alba) stands in west-central Alberta [34].  It is also used as a secondary indicator of slope instability in grand fir (Abies grandis)/pachistima (Pachistima myrsinites) habitat types on the Clearwater National Forest, Idaho [27]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Western oakfern unfolds its fronds in early spring [6] and senesces in autumn [16].


SPECIES: Gymnocarpium dryopteris
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Western oakfern has rhizomes which may allow it to sprout following fire [25]. Because spores are stored in the soil seed bank, fires that do not damage upper soil layers may not permanently eliminate western oakfern from an area. 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 :    Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil


SPECIES: Gymnocarpium dryopteris
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Fire can top-kill western oakfern, and repeated burning can significantly reduce it's frequency [25,32]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : In white spruce climax forests of Alaska, light surface fires usually do not affect understory species composition, of which western oakfern is a part [22].  However, stand-replacement fires that completely eliminate white spruce result in early seral communities where western oakfern is not present. In cedar-hemlock forests of northern Idaho, western oakfern successively decreased in abundance on sites that were logged, slashpile-burned, broadcast burned once, and burned two or more times over a 30-year period [25]. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Western oakfern appears to decrease in constancy and/or cover following logging and burning [14]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : In the East Slope Region of central Alberta, western oakfern is not present until the climax stages of succession following fire [9].  On severely burned sites in northern Idaho (where all trees and groundlayer vegetation was consumed), western oakfern appeared in the third postfire year only [32].  This occurrence was rare because western oakfern is not considered a fire-surviving species.  In the subboreal spruce zone of British Columbia, western oakfern was present within 10 years following fire on four sites ranging from fairly dry to wet [14].  Fires were broadcast burns following logging, and its effects on specific plants were not studied at the time of the fire. Hamilton's Research Papers (Hamilton 2006a, Hamilton 2006b) and Research Project Summary provide information on prescribed fire and postfire response of many plant species, including western oakfern, that was not available when this species review was originally written. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Gymnocarpium dryopteris

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 2.  Almack, Jon. 1986. Grizzly bear habitat use, food habits, and movements in the Selkirk Mountains, northern Idaho. In: Contreras, Glen P.; Evans, Keith E., compilers. Proceedings--grizzly bear habitat symposium; 1985 April 30 - May 2; Missoula, MT. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-207. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 150-157.  [10815]

 3.  Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. [434]

 4.  Boggs, Keith; Hansen, Paul; Pfister, Robert; Joy, John. 1990. Classification and management of riparian and wetland sites in northwestern Montana. Missoula, MT: University of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station, Montana Riparian Association. 217 p. Draft Version 1.  [8447]

 5.  Caza, C, L.; Kimmins, J. P. 1990. Problems with the development and application of competition indices in complex, multispecies communities. In: Hamilton, Evelyn, compiler. Vegetation management: An integrated approach--Proceedings of the 4th annual vegetation management workshop; 1989 November 14-16; Vancouver, BC. FRDA Report 109. Victoria, BC: Ministry of Forests, Research Branch: 30-32.  [10950]

 6.  Cody, William J.; Britton, Donald M. 1989. Ferns and fern allies of Canada. Ottawa, ON: Agriculture Canada, Research Branch. 430 p.  [13078]

 7.  Cooper, Stephen V.; Neiman, Kenneth E.; Roberts, David W. 1991. (Rev.) Forest habitat types of northern Idaho: a second approximation. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-236. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 143 p.  [14792]

 8.  Cormack, R. G. H. 1949. A study of trout streamside cover in logged-over and undisturbed virgin spruce woods. Canadian Journal of Research. 27: 78-95.  [15689]

 9.  Cormack, R. G. H. 1953. A survey of coniferous forest succession in the eastern Rockies. Forestry Chronicle. 29: 218-232.  [16458]

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14.  Hamilton, Evelyn H.; Yearsley, H. Karen. 1988. Vegetation development after clearcutting and site preparation in the SBS zone. Economic and Regional Development Agreement: FRDA Report 018. Victoria, BC: Canadian Forestry Service, Pacific Forestry Centre; British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Lands. 66 p.  [8760]

15.  Harcombe, Andrew; Pendergast, Bruce; Petch, Bruce; Janz, Doug. 1983. Elk habitat management: Salmon River Valley. MOE Working Report 1. 83-05-10. Victoria, BC: Ministry of the Environment. 83 p.  [9984]

16.  Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur; Ownbey, Marion. 1969. Vascular plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part 1: Vascular cryptograms, gymnosperms, and monocotyledons. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 914 p.  [1169]

17.  Jones, R. Keith; Pierpoint, Geoffrey; Wickware, Gregory M.; [and others]

. 1983. Field guide to forest ecosystem classification for the Clay Belt, site region 3e. Maple, Ontario: Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario Forest Research Institute. 160 p.  [16163]

18.  Kirkpatrick, Ruth E. B.; Soltis, Pamela S.; Soltis, Douglas E. 1990. Mating system and distribution of genetic variation in Gymnocarpium dryopteris ssp. disjunctum. American Journal of Botany. 77(8): 1101-1110.  [16231]

19.  Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p.  [1384]

20.  Kudish, Michael. 1992. Adirondack upland flora: an ecological perspective. Saranac, NY: The Chauncy Press. 320 p.  [19376]

21.  Lackschewitz, Klaus. 1991. Vascular plants of west-central Montana--identification guidebook. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-227. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 648 p.  [13798]

22.  Lutz, H. J. 1953. The effects of forest fires on the vegetation of interior Alaska. Juneau, AK: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 36 p. [7076]

23.  Milberg, Per. 1991. Fern spores in a grassland soil. Canadian Journal of Botany. 69: 831-834.  [14868]

24.  Mladenoff, David J. 1990. The relationship of the soil seed bank and understory vegetation in old-growth northern hardwood-hemlock treefall gaps. Canadian Journal of Botany. 68: 2714-2721.  [13477]

25.  Mueggler, Walter F. 1965. Ecology of seral shrub communities in the cedar-hemlock zone of northern Idaho. Ecological Monographs. 35: 165-185.  [4016]

26.  Otchere-Boateng, J.; Herring, L. J. 1990. Site preparation: chemical. In: Lavender, D. P.; Parish, R.; Johnson, C. M.; [and others], eds. Regenerating British Columbia's Forests. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press: 164-178.  [10714]

27.  Pole, Michael W.; Satterlund, Donald R. 1978. Plant indicators of slope instability. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. Sept-Oct: 230-232. [8199]

28.  Pryer, Kathleen M.; Haufler, Christopher H. 1993. Isozymic and chromosomal evidence for the allotetraploid origin of Gymnocarpium dryopteris (Dryopteridaceae). Systematic Botany. 18(1): 150-172. [21783]

29.  Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p.  [2843]

30.  Reynolds, Keith M. 1990. Preliminary classification of forest vegetation of the Kenai Penninsula, Alaska. Res. Pap. PNW-RP-424. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 67 p.  [14581]

31.  Shearer, Raymond C.; Stickney, Peter F. 1991. Natural revegetation of burned and unburned clearcuts in western larch forests of northwest Montana. In: Nodvin, Stephen C.; Waldrop, Thomas A., eds. Fire and the environment: ecological and cultural perspectives: Proceedings of an international symposium; 1990 March 20-24; Knoxville, TN. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-69. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station: 66-74.  [16635]

32.  Stickney, Peter F. 1986. First decade plant succession following the Sundance Forest Fire, northern Idaho. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-197. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 26 p.  [2255]

33.  Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p.  [20090]

34.  Strong, W. L.; Pluth, D. J.; LaRoi, G. H.; Corns, I. G. W. 1991. Forest understory plants as predictors of lodgepole pine and white spruce site quality in west-central Alberta. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 21: 1675-1683.  [17695]

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