Dryopteris guyotti was abundant in past geologic ages.
Broad, flat leaves helped the fern catch more sunlight.
number 3135a. Photo by R. Wood.
Ferns have large complex fronds (leaves) and are spore bearers. Some ferns are non-woody, but other ferns are woody and are called tree ferns. Ferns were common late Paleozoic plants and widespread in the Mesozoic. Today ferns are the most common and diverse spore-bearing land plants with over 10,000 species. They generally live in moist, shady areas of the forest understory.
Dryopteris, from the Greek, drus (oak) and pteris (fern) occurs in Florissant’s Eocene fossil flora as well as other Tertiary floras. Its common name—wood fern—is from the preferred woodland habitat of most Dryopteris species. Other common names include shield fern, Goldie’s fern, male fern and buckler ferns.
Today Dryopteris is a genus of about 250 species of ferns growing in the temperate Northern Hemisphere and in eastern Asia. Fronds are bipinnate (branching of leaflets at right angles to the central axis). The leaflets, or pinnules, are lobed. Fertile pinnules have round sori, which are fruit dots or reproductive bodies (Tidwell, 1998). Many of the species have solid rootstocks forming a crown with a ring of fronds.
|Line drawing of Dryopteris filix.|
Note round sori near top.
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913.
An illustrated flora of the northern United States,
Canada and the British Possessions.