Woodwardia areolata (L.) Moore
Coefficient of Conservatism: 10
Coefficient of Wetness: -5
Wetness Index: OBL
Physiognomy: Nt Fern
Status: X
Woodwardia areolata B. S. Slaughter

Swamp forests and boggy woods in acidic soils; disjunct from a range mostly to the south and east (see Cranfill, 1983), and collected in Michigan by L. H. Bailey in 1880. Bailey (1881) noted the habitat and abundance as “...in a dark, damp, and forbidding hemlock forest fourteen miles south of South Haven…only a single isolated patch was discovered, about two feet wide by twenty long.”

Bailey's brief note, however, clearly included two occurrences. He wrote that he "was shown a sterile frond...collected at South Haven" by Mrs. L. A. Millington, and then "a few days later" he found a patch "fourteen miles south of South Haven." The label of the NY sheet says "Bogs, shore of Lake Michigan, South Haven, Sept. 1880" which matches the first site, thus he presumably went to see and collect better material from Mrs. Millington's station. The BH and GH sheets (dated Oct. 2, 1880) are from "Covert, Van Buren Co." with no habitat. This would be "a few days later" and Covert is well south of South Haven (The description in Bailey's published note of "fourteen miles south of South Haven" would, if measured in a straight line, be just over the Berrien County line; Bailey was clearly not measuring air miles).

This species resembles Onoclea sensibilis in having dimorphic fronds and being  colonial from creeping rhizomes, perhaps complicating searches for this plant in the large areas of appropriate habitat in southwestern Michigan. However, the fertile fronds of the Woodwardia, though narrower than the vegetative leaves, are still leaf-like, not the firm, inrolled, stiff, persistent structures that dry brown and hard as in Onoclea. The vegetative leaves are more like those of Onoclea, but the segments are usually less deeply lobed and more pointed in Woodwardia.

Its recent discovery in both northern Indiana and northern Illinois suggests the likelihood that it will be rediscovered in Michigan. 


Van Buren County


MICHIGAN FLORA ONLINE. A. A. Reznicek, E. G. Voss, & B. S. Walters. February 2011. University of Michigan. Web. December 14, 2017. http://michiganflora.net/species.aspx?id=561.