Dryopteris fragrans fronds are usually less than 25 cm
long and 5 cm wide and the blades taper gradually toward both
ends. The pinnate-pinnatifid to bi-pinnate blades bear numerous
glands and when fresh emit an odor said by some to resemble the
odor of hay. Scales are usually abundant on the abaxial (bottom)
surface. Old fronds remain attached even after they have died
and shriveled up.
The distribution of D. fragrans is decidedly northern,
ranging across Canada and Alaska and extending south into the
U.S. in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan and from northern New
York to Maine. Habitat is mostly on rocks in cool, shady sites.
It has been identified as a "special concern"
species in Wisconsin.