Species Profile

Broad Beech Fern

Scientific Name: Phegopteris hexagonoptera
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
Range: Ontario, Quebec
Last COSEWIC Assessment: April 1983
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: Schedule 3, Special Concern - (SARA Schedule 1 provisions do not apply)

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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Broad Beech Fern

Broad Beech Fern Photo 1



The Broad Beech Fern grows to a height of 50 cm or more, of which the stipe or petiole is 15 to 20 cm and the frond is 20 to 40 cm. The length of the frond is usually equal to or larger than its width. The leaflets get smaller the closer they are to the top, such that the overall shape of the frond is triangular. The leaflet stems are not always opposite. The underside of the frond is faintly downy and glandulous; short, scaly hairs can sometimes be found on the veins. The plant has a creeping, scaly, slightly pulpy root.


Distribution and Population

The Broad Beech Fern is widespread in the eastern United States. In Canada, the fern is found only in southern Ontario and southern Quebec. Several Canadian populations of Broad Beech Fern have disappeared.



The Broad Beech Fern inhabits shady areas of beech and maple forests where the soil is moist or wet. In Canada, this plant is at the northern limit of its climatic range.



In Canada, the frond of the Broad Beech Fern appears towards the end of May. It reproduces through spores. When the sporangia (the cases containing the spores) reach maturity at the end of the summer, they burst and the spores are scattered.



The Broad Beech Fern is not tolerant of changes in its environment. The mechanization of maple sugar operations can have negative effects on the fern populations, since this plant is often found in maple stands. Urban development and outdoor activities are other threats to populations of Broad Beech Ferns.



Federal Protection

Species that were designated at risk by COSEWIC prior to October 1999 must be reassessed against revised criteria before they can be considered for addition to Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). To find out when re-assessment of this species is anticipated, please consult the COSEWIC web site.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.


Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Conservation plan for Broad Beech Fern (Phegopteris hexagonoptera) in Quebec
Status Recovery team/planner in place



PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

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