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The Crested Wood or Shield Fern is part of the wood fern family (Dryopteridaceae). A defining feature of the crested wood fern is the twisted pinnae (leaflets) which can turn up to 90°, giving it a comb-like profile. The crested wood fern features a large stem (rhizome) that is capable of branching off to create new crowns. The fronds grow about 60cm high and 12cm wide. The sterile fronds are evergreen, while the fertile fronds are deciduous. The fronds are slightly leathery and grow pinnae in 10-15 pairs.
The crested wood fern does well in very moist environments, such as swampy woods, marshes, and shrubby wetlands.
Spores mature in midsummer. Reproduction can also occur vegetatively by rhizome.