Onoclea sensibilis L.
sensitive fern
Family: Dryopteridaceae

fertile frond

Onoclea sensibilis is a common and distinctive fern in Wisconsin. The bright yellow-green sterile fronds are pinnatifid and tend to be borne at intervals along a rhizome. Therefore they do not form conspicuous clumps as many of our other soil-dwelling ferns do. The modified pinnae of the fertile fronds roll up to form bead-like structures that are very distinctive. The fertile fronds turn black or dark brown at maturity, often persisting through the next winter, thereby allowing them to be easily identified throughout the year.

O. sensibilis ranges from Newfoundland to Florida and west to Texas, North Dakota and Manitoba. It is common throughout Wisconsin in a wide variety of wet habitats, both sunny and shaded.

Key to Ferns

Introduction to Ferns

Glossary of terms

List of all Pteridophytes

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