Common native ferns

The 37 more common fern species included in the key are widely distributed throughout at least half of Britain and Ireland and are in most cases common in suitable, albeit sometimes restricted, habitats over that area. They are listed below with the scientific name (also referred to as the ‘Latin binomial’), the usual English name (also known as the ‘common name’), and the family.

In the list, the scientific name is followed by the authority, that is, the name(s), in abbreviated form, of the botanist(s) who defined and described the plant under that name. This avoids any confusion if the same name has been used for different groups of plants but for simplicity the authority is omitted when a species is referred to later in the key. The scientific name is important because it is consistent worldwide, whereas common names vary with language and even locality – the same plant may have different English names in different parts of Britain. The scientific names and the family name also convey information about relationships. The first scientific name is the genus (plural ‘genera’) and the second name is the species (plural ‘species’). Species in the same genus are closely related and inter-specific hybrids may occur between some of them, whereas species in different genera are more distantly related and rarely hybridise. Genera that are grouped within the same Family share certain basic characters which indicate a common evolutionary origin.

Asplenium adiantum-nigrum L.Black SpleenwortAspleniaceae
A. ceterach L.Rustyback Fern
A. marinum L.Sea Spleenwort
A. ruta-muraria L.Wall Rue
A. septentrionale (L.) Hoffm.Forked Spleenwort
A. scolopendrium L.Hart's Tongue Fern
A. trichomanes L.Maidenhair Spleenwort
A. viride Huds.Green Spleenwort
Athyrium filix-femina (L.) Roth.Common Lady FernWoodsiaceae
Blechnum spicant (L.) RothHard Fern, Deer FernBlechnaceae
Botrychium lunaria (L.) SwartzMoonwortOphioglossaceae
Cryptogramma crispa (L.) Hook.Parsley FernAdiantaceae
Cystopteris fragilis (L.) Bernh.Brittle Bladder FernWoodsiaceae
Dryopteris aemula (Ait.) KuntzeHay-scented Buckler FernDryopteridaceae
D. affinis (Lowe) Fras.-JenkinsScaly Male Fern
D. carthusiana (Vill.) H.P.FuchsNarrow Buckler Fern
D. dilatata (Hoffm.) A.GrayBroad Buckler Fern
D. expansa (C.Presl.) Fras.-Jenkins & JermyNorthern Buckler Fern
D. filix-mas (L.) SchottCommon Male Fern
D. oreades FominMountain Male Fern
Gymnocarpium dryopteris (L.) Sm.Common Oak FernWoodsiaceae
G. robertianum (Hoffm.) NewmanLimestone Oak Fern
Hymenophyllum tunbrigense (L.) Sm.Tunbridge Filmy FernHymenophyllaceae
H. wilsonii HookerWilson's Filmy Fern
Ophioglossum vulgatum L.Common Adder's TongueOphioglossaceae
Oreopteris limbosperma (Bellardi ex All.) J. HolubMountain FernThelypteridaceae
Osmunda regalis L.Royal FernOsmundaceae
Phegopteris connectilis (Michx.) WattBeech FernThelypteridaceae
Pilularia globulifera L.PillwortMarsileaceae
Polypodium cambricum L.Southern PolypodyPolypodiaceae
P. interjectum ShivasWestern Polypody
P. vulgare L.Common Polypody
Polystichum aculeatum (L.) RothHard Shield FernDryopteridaceae
P. lonchitis (L.) RothHolly Fern
P. setiferum ForskalSoft Shield Fern
Pteridium aquilinum (L.) KuhnBrackenDennstaedtiaceae
Thelypteris palustris SchottMarsh FernThelypteridaceae
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