Rootstock: stout, creeping, chaffy. Stems: numerous, densely tufted, brownish below, greenish above. Leaves: linear-lanceolate, herbaceous; pinnae ovate, deeply crenate, unequal sided. Sori: oblong, numerous.
The ancient Greek name of this fern has reference to the fact that it was supposed to be a remedy for certain diseases of the spleen. The leaves are pale green and soft, the upper edges of the pinnae narrowing suddenly at the base, the lower ones being obliquely truncate, that is having the appearance of being cut off at the top.
Asplenium cyclosorum, or Large Lady Fern, has much bigger and more flaccid leaves than the Green Spleenwort. It is frequently confused with Asplenium Filix-faemiria, the true Lady Fern, from which, however, it is really quite distinct, the covering of the fruit dots being differently curved. Filix-focmina does not occur in the Rocky Mountains. Of all the ferns which have inspired poets, probably the Lady Fern takes first place, and though the following lines by Edwin Lees were really penned to the true Lady Fern, still they are so very quaint and reminiscent of mid-Victorian verse, that I cannot refrain from appending them to this short note on the Large Lady Fern. "When in splendour and beauty all nature is crowned, The Fern is seen curling half hid in the ground, But of all the green Brackens that rise by the burn, Commend me alone to the sweet Lady Fern.
Polypodium indented stands stiff on the rock, With his sori exposed to the tempest's rough shock; On the wide, chilly heath Aquilina stands stern, Not once to be named with the sweet Lady Fern.
Filix-mas in a circle lifts up his green fronds, And the Heath Fern delights by the bogs and the ponds; Through their shadowy tufts though with pleasure I turn, The palm must still rest with the fair Lady Fern.
Where the water is pouring forever she sits, And beside her the Ouzel, the Kingfisher flits; There, supreme in her beauty, beside the full urn, In the shade of the rock stands the tall Lady Fern.
Noon burns up the mountain; but here by the fall The Lady Fern flourishes graceful and tall. Hours speed as thoughts rise, without any concern, And float like the spray gliding past the green Fern."