Athyrium - Woodsiaceae

Athyrium filix-femina (L.) Roth






Polypodium filix-femina L.
Asplenium filix-femina (L.) Bernh.

Common name

Lady fern.


Rhizome short-creeping, forming an asymmetric clump, stout, scaly. Fronds monomorphic, 120 x 30 cm, deciduous, blade/stipe ratio: more than 1:1 to 2:1. Stipe straw-colored above, base dark red-brown or black, swollen; in some forms very red, old stipes persistent; scales linear- to ovate-lanceolate in outline, 7-20 × 1-5 mm, light to dark brown. Lamina 2-pinnate-pinnatifid, less and more also seen, elliptic to lanceolate in outline, apex acuminate, herbaceous, yellow-green to bright green; pinnae 20 to 30 pair, sessile to short-stalked, linear-oblong to lanceolate in outline, apex acuminate, margins toothed or lobed, blunt or pointed at the tip; veins free, forking, not reaching the margin; rhachis , costae, and costules glabrous or with glands or hairs; costae grooved above, V-shaped, continuous from rhachis to costae to costules. Sori straight, sometimes hooked at the far end, or horseshoe-shaped, at the base of the segments; indusium elongate, toothed, to a veinlet.



filix: fern, femina: female or woman.


Meadows, thickets, woodland, swamps.

Distribution worldwide

North, Central and south America, Africa, Europe, Asia.

Distribution in Africa

Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Western Sahara, Tunesia.

Growth form



  • Roux, J.P. (2009) Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands. Strelitzia 23, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Page 0. (Includes a picture).
  • Stuart, T. (2004-) Hardy Fern Library. Published on the internet: Page 0. (Includes a picture).