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Glade Fern (Homalosorus pycnocarpos)

Life history

Species overview

Glade Fern (Homalosorus pycnocarpos), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in very rich, mesic deciduous forests, often with dolomite near the surface. This species can be identified year-round.

Synonyms: Asplenium angustifolium, Asplenium pycnocarpon, Athyrium angustifolium, A. pycnocarpon, Diplazium pycnocarpon


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Pinnae simple, shallowly crenate to entire, the veins 1-forked just above the base and the branches themselves forked above their base; stipes sparsely hairy to glabrous; sori linear, straight, at a 60-degree angle to the main veins.
  • Flower characteristics:
  • Fruit characteristics: Sori elongate, several times longer than wide, nearly straight, not recurved, at ca. a 60-degree angle to the costae (main veins); indusia translucent, brownish, entire.
  • Leaf characteristics: Oblong-lanceolate, 35 to 75 cm long, 13 to 25 cm wide, acute at the base, widest above the base, acute-acuminate at the apex, pinnate; pinnae linear, truncate at the base, shallowly crenate to entire, acuminate at the apex, the veins forked at or near the base and 0 to 2 branches again forked above the base.


  • Blooming phenology:
  • Fruiting phenology: late summer
  • Optimum time to identify: This species can be identified year-round


  • Growth form: Fern
  • Vegetative reproduction: Rhizomatous
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Acer saccharum, Tilia americana, Fraxinus americana, Athyrium thelypterioides, Dryopteris goldiana, Phegopteris hexagonoptera, Quercus rubra, Adiantum pedatum.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Glade Fern (Homalosorus pycnocarpos). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Homalosorus pycnocarpos in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS2
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in very rich, mesic deciduous forests, often with dolomite near the surface.
  • Soils: Rich, mesic, sometimes calcareous soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Glade Fern. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Glade Fern. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.
  • Maintain high forest canopy cover; this species requires shaded habitat conditions.


Glade Fern Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Glade Fern Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Glade Fern Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Glade Fern Photo.

Photo by Armund Bartz, Wisconsin DNR.

Glade Fern Photo.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor, Wisconsin DNR.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition