Open the Advanced Search

Beech Fern

Phegopteris connectilis

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Thelypteridaceae (Marsh Fern)
Also in this family:
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
90 centimetres tall
Rocky places, waterside, woodland.
Ferns do not produce flowers.
The spores are present from May to October.
An elegant perennial fern with triangular leaves reaching 16 inches in length and 12 inches wide. The rootstock is creeping. The leaves (fronds) are soft and pale green. The lowest 2 leaflets bend downwards. Deciduous.
Other Names:
Chain Fern, Long Beech, Long Beech Fern, Narrow Beech Fern, Northern Beech Fern, Silvery Spleenwort.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Phegopteris connectilis, also known as long beech fern or silvery spleenwort, is a fern species that is native to North America. It is a perennial plant that typically grows to be about one to three feet tall. The fronds of P. connectilis are lance-shaped, and they have a distinctive silvery-white color on the underside of the leaf blades, which gives the plant its common name of "silvery spleenwort." The plant prefers moist, well-drained soils in partial to full shade, and is commonly found in woodlands, along streams and rivers, and in rocky or sandy areas. It also tolerant to some degree of drought and can handle some amount of sun exposure.

P. connectilis is considered an important food source for several species of wildlife, and it is also a popular ornamental plant due to its attractive foliage. This plant is not commonly found in commercial trade but can be found in native plant and fern nurseries.

It is considered as a threatened plant species in some states and Endangered in some other and is protected under the law in those areas.


Beech fern, or Phegopteris connectilis, is a delicate and graceful fern that is native to much of North America. It is a member of the family Thelypteridaceae, and it is also known as the chain fern because of its appearance. In this blog, we will take a closer look at the beech fern and explore its features, habitat, and cultural significance.

Features of Beech Fern

Beech fern is a deciduous fern, which means that it loses its leaves in the fall. The fronds of the beech fern are delicate and have a lacy appearance. They are usually between 10 and 25 cm long and are pinnately compound. The fronds emerge from the rhizome in the spring and grow throughout the summer. The sori, which are the structures that produce and contain the spores, are arranged in a line on the underside of the frond, hence the name "chain fern."


Beech fern is a woodland fern and is often found in moist, shady areas such as forests, stream banks, and wetlands. It prefers well-drained soil and is often found growing on rocky slopes. Beech fern is also known to grow in disturbed areas, such as roadsides and clearings, but it is less common in these areas.

Cultural Significance

Beech fern has been used for a variety of purposes throughout history. Native American tribes have used the plant as a poultice to treat burns and other skin ailments. The plant was also used to make tea, which was believed to have medicinal properties. In addition to its medicinal uses, beech fern has also been used for decorative purposes. The delicate fronds of the plant are often used in floral arrangements, and the plant is also used in landscaping to add texture and depth to gardens.

Beech fern, or Phegopteris connectilis, is a delicate and graceful fern that is native to North America. Its delicate fronds and distinctive chain-like sori make it a popular plant for use in floral arrangements and landscaping. Additionally, the plant has a long history of medicinal use, and its leaves have been used to treat a variety of ailments. Whether you are a lover of plants, a herbalist, or a landscaper, the beech fern is a plant that is sure to delight and inspire.

More Information

Beech fern is a hardy plant that is relatively easy to grow and care for. It prefers moist, well-drained soil and partial to full shade. It can also tolerate drier conditions once established. In the garden, beech fern can be used to create a woodland or shady garden, where it can be paired with other shade-loving plants such as hostas, ferns, and astilbes.

Beech fern is also an important plant for wildlife. The plant provides cover and habitat for a variety of small animals, including insects, rodents, and birds. The fronds of the plant can also be used as a food source for grazing animals such as deer and elk.

One interesting fact about beech fern is that it is part of a complex of hybridizing ferns. Beech fern hybridizes readily with several other species of Thelypteris, and the resulting hybrids can be difficult to distinguish from the parent species. This has led to some taxonomic confusion, and some botanists have suggested that several of the species within the Thelypteris genus should be merged into a single species.

In summary, beech fern is a delicate and graceful fern that is well-suited to shaded gardens and woodland areas. It is easy to grow and care for, and it has a long history of medicinal use and cultural significance. The plant is also an important part of many ecosystems, providing cover and habitat for a variety of small animals. Whether you are a gardener, a naturalist, or simply a lover of beautiful plants, beech fern is a plant that is sure to captivate and inspire.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map