Rock polypody is native to eastern North America, and possibly also to Japan, Korea, Mongolia,
and eastern Siberia. It forms a springy, verdant carpet over
rocks, even in winter. It is also partial to cliffs. It prefers dampness and shade.
Identification: Smaller than most ferns, rock polypody
has narrow fronds 3-16" (8-40 cm) long and 1-2" (3-6 cm) wide, on smooth stems (petioles)
1-6" (3-15 cm) long. Fronds are erect and often arched, oblong, lanceolate-oblong, or elliptic-oblong in
general shape, containing 8-20 pairs of leaflets, and usually widest toward the middle.
While many ferns emerge from a central rhizome, these
are haphazardly oriented.
Leaflets are oblong and acuminate. The angle formed between successive leaflets is very
acute, while similar appearing resurrection ferns’ are concave.
In summer and fall, roundsori,
arranged in neat rows and columns of fuzzy-looking pale brown dots, appear on the leaf undersides. The sori lack
a protective membrane (indusia).
Polypodium virginianum on Earl J.S. Rook's Flora, Fauna, Earth, and Sky ...
The Natural History of the Northwoods