|A medium sized, twice-cut, dark green fern growing in clumps of 6 or more ascending and arching leaves. The scaly stalks arise from a large exposed rootstock. The 18-24” evergreen leaves are rather thick and the slightly scaly axis is grooved in front. The lance-shaped leaflets taper to a sharp tip and are cut into 20 to 30 blunt-tipped sub-leaflets. The sub-leaflet margins may be toothed. The relatively large fruit dots are at the margins of the sub-leaflets.
Spinulose woodfern (Dryopteris spinulosa) is similar, but the leaves are thinner, are not always evergreen and the sub-leaflets are cut to some degree. The fruit dots are not as close to the margin.