Woodwardia areolata, commonly called netted chain fern, is a deciduous fern of eastern North America which typically occurs in areas of wet, acidic, and organic soils. Environments such as woodland swamps and bogs is where netted chain fern can be found naturally. This fern is similar in appearance to the much more common sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis), except the latter generally grows taller (to 4′), has beaded, woody-like fertile fronds and has smooth-edged leaflets with opposite arrangement on the sterile fronds.
It is easily grown in organically rich, medium to wet, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. It does well in average garden soils and will take a considerable amount of sun as long as soils are kept consistently moist. Spreads by branching and creeping rhizomes, and will naturalize over time into large colonies in optimum growing conditions… almost to the point of being weedy.
Pinnae of the Netted chain fern are mostly alternate. Its spores are borne in chain-like rows on a frond with narrow pinnae. It has bright green lanceolate, pinnatifid with wide wings along the rachis. Its veins joining into two or more rows of areoles between the midvein and the margin of the pinn.