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Oblong Woodsia

Woodsia ilvensis

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Plant Profile

Woodsiaceae (Woodsia)
Also in this family:
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Cliffs, gardens, mountains, rocky places.
Ferns do not have flowers. Instead they reproduce by means of spores as their fruiting bodies.
The spores mature from July to September.
Overwintering fronds, in a basal rosette. Pinnately lobed, opposite leaflets. Similar in appearance to Alpine Woodsia (Woodsia alpina) but slightly larger and with dark green fronds (leaves). Very hairy underneath the leaves and along the midrib. Each frond has 4 to 8 pairs of leaflets. Also similar to Brittle Bladder Fern (Cystopteris fragilis) but that is a much larger plant.
Other Names:
Rusty Cliff Fern, Rusty Woodsia.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Woodsia ilvensis, commonly known as rusty woodsia or rusty cliff fern, is a species of fern in the family Woodsia. It is native to North America, Europe, and Asia, typically found in mountainous regions such as cliffs, rocky outcrops, and talus slopes. It is a small, evergreen fern that forms rosettes of delicate, finely divided leaves. The leaves are typically green, but they can have a rusty or ruddy coloration, especially in the new growth. The fern is also used as an ornamental plant in gardens and it is known for its ability to thrive in rocky and alpine environments. It is also used in traditional medicine, but there is not enough scientific evidence to support its medicinal properties.


Oblong Woodsia: A Unique Fern of North American Forests

Woodsia ilvensis, commonly known as Oblong Woodsia, is a beautiful fern species native to North America. It can be found in a wide range of habitats, including coniferous forests, alpine meadows, and rocky cliffs, and is a prized addition to any woodland garden.

The Oblong Woodsia has distinctive, dark green fronds that are lance-shaped and grow up to 18 inches long. Its delicate foliage creates a delicate, feathery texture that is sure to add interest and contrast to any garden setting. Unlike many other fern species, the Oblong Woodsia is evergreen, which means that its foliage will remain green and attractive throughout the winter months.

In terms of care, the Oblong Woodsia is an easy plant to grow. It prefers moist, well-drained soil and a partially shaded location, though it can also tolerate full sun if given adequate moisture. In addition, it is a low-maintenance plant, requiring very little in the way of pruning or maintenance.

One of the most unique aspects of the Oblong Woodsia is its method of reproduction. Unlike many other fern species, which produce spores or spores of rhizomes that can be used to propagate the plant, the Oblong Woodsia produces spores of its fronds, which will grow into new plants over time. This makes it a great choice for gardeners who are looking for an easy way to add more of these beautiful ferns to their garden.

The Oblong Woodsia is a stunning fern that is well-suited to a wide range of garden settings. Whether you are looking to add interest and texture to a woodland garden, or simply looking for a low-maintenance, evergreen plant to add to your garden, the Oblong Woodsia is a great choice. With its distinctive, lance-shaped fronds and easy care requirements, this beautiful fern is sure to become a valued addition to any garden.

Additionally, the Oblong Woodsia is an important plant species for many reasons. Firstly, it plays an important role in the ecosystem as a food source for many species of birds and insects, making it an essential part of the food chain. Secondly, it is a valuable indicator species, as its presence can be used to gauge the health of the surrounding environment.

In terms of conservation, the Oblong Woodsia is considered a species of least concern, meaning it is not currently at risk of extinction. However, as with all species, it is important to be mindful of the impact of human activities on its populations and habitats. This can include things like avoiding the use of pesticides or herbicides in areas where the Oblong Woodsia is present, and ensuring that logging or other land-use practices do not damage or destroy its habitats.

Despite its delicate appearance, the Oblong Woodsia is a tough and resilient plant species that is well-suited to a wide range of climates and conditions. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or just starting out, this beautiful fern is a great choice for adding interest and beauty to your garden.

The Oblong Woodsia is a fascinating and unique fern species that is well-worth getting to know. Whether you are interested in its biology, its role in the ecosystem, or simply its beauty, this beautiful fern is sure to captivate and inspire.

Furthermore, the Oblong Woodsia has been used for a variety of purposes by indigenous cultures throughout North America. In some Native American cultures, the fronds of the Oblong Woodsia were woven into baskets or used for insulation in traditional dwellings. In others, the plant was used for medicinal purposes, with the fronds being used to treat a variety of ailments, including wounds, rashes, and stomach problems.

Today, the Oblong Woodsia is not only appreciated for its beauty, but also for its ability to provide a sense of peace and tranquility in the garden. Its delicate fronds and soft texture make it a popular choice for use in meditation gardens, and its calming presence is sure to soothe the soul.

The Oblong Woodsia is also a popular choice for rock gardens, as its tough and resilient nature makes it well-suited to growing in rocky or gravelly soils. Additionally, its ability to grow in both sun and shade makes it a great choice for adding interest and texture to a wide range of garden styles, from woodland gardens to alpine meadows.

Whether you are interested in its beauty, its ecological importance, or its historical significance, the Oblong Woodsia is a fascinating and unique plant species that is well worth exploring.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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