Broad Buckler-fern - Dryopteris dilatata

Alternative names
Broad Buckler Fern

The fronds grow out of the underground, root-like stem on long stalks. The triangular scales along the stem have a dark centre which is a diagnostic character for this species. The fronds are broad, triangular and 2- to 3-pinnate, growing up to 120 cm long in good conditions, and forming dense crowns that arch outwards.

Similar Species

Narrow Buckler fern (D carthusiana) has scale that a pale brown or with slight darker shadow in centre, growth form in more scattered fronds rather than dense tufts.  Immature Male ferns can have leaves that are more divided than adult ferns and can look like buckler-ferns.

Identification difficulty
ID checklist (your specimen should have all of these features)

Leaves more finely divided than male-fern; scales on stems with district dark zone in middle


A fern of moist woodlands, streams, waterfalls and pockets of deep leaf litter.

When to see it

Shoots appear late April or May and die back in autumn

Life History


UK Status

Common and widespread in Britain.

VC55 Status

Frequent in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 280 of the 617 tetrads.

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map

Species profile

Common names
Common Buckler-Fern, Broad Buckler-fern
Species group:
Ferns & Horsetails
Records on NatureSpot:
First record:
01/01/1979 (Patricia Evans)
Last record:
19/04/2024 (Markham, Marian)

Total records by month

% of records within its species group

10km squares with records

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