E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Gymnocarpium dryopteris (L.) Newman
oak fern (western oakfern)
Dryopteridaceae (Wood Fern family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Bryan Kelly-McArthur  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #68827)

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Distribution of Gymnocarpium dryopteris
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Species Information

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Deciduous perennial arising individually at spaced intervals from long creeping rhizomes and usually in large colonies.
On wiry, smooth stipes 5-25 cm long, blades triangular, 5-15 cm long and about the same width, 2-pinnate; ultimate segments lobed.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist to wet rocky forests, bog margins, and rocky ledges in the montane and subalpine zones; frequent east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to PA and MI; Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Gymnocarpium dryopteris

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 0 941 2750
Slope Gradient (%) 0 21 410
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 354 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 4 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(1), BWBS(98), CDF(1), CWH(1604), ESSF(2134), ICH(2730), IDF(116), MH(169), MS(187), SBPS(21), SBS(1601), SWB(1)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant, submontane to subalpine, circumpolar fem (transcontinental in North America). Occurs on fresh to very moist, nitrogen-rich soils within boreal, cool temperate, and cool mesothermal climates. Its occurrence increases with increasing precipitation, latitude, and continentality, and decreases with increasing temperature. Scattered to plentiful in forests on water-receiving (floodplain, seepage, and stream-edge) sites. Often associated with Athyrium filix­femina, Oplopanax honidus, Streptopus roseus, and Tiarella unifoliata. Characteristic of Moder and Mull humus forms.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Dryopteris dryopteris (L.) Britt.
Dryopteris linnaeana C. Chr.
Phegopteris dryopteris (L.) FΘe
Thelypteris dryopteris (L.) Slosson

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References