Stems long-creeping, ropelike; scales dark brown, few, triangular. Leaves monomorphic, deciduous, numerous, well separated, 50-100 cm. Petiole dark purple to black proximally, straw-colored distally, base lustrous and swollen, glabrate. Blade greenish, lanceolate, 28-60 cm, bearing mixture of glands and scales upon emergence with glands persisting. Pinnae articulate to rachis, arranged in 12-23 evenly distributed pairs, linear to narrowly lanceolate, deeply pinnatifid; middle pinnae 6-16 × 1-3.5 cm. Veins anastomosing to form a single row of areoles, then free to margin. Sori elongate, linear, superficial, often appearing confluent upon dehiscence of sporangia. Indusia ± membranous, lacking thickened cells, freely spreading, often hidden by dehisced sporangia. 2 n = 70. Swamps, marshes, bogs, and roadside ditches over noncalcareous substrates; 0-300 m; N.B., N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que.; Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Miss., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Pa., R.I., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Vt., Va., W.Va.; Bermuda. Woodwardia virginica is primarily confined to the coastal plain of eastern North America. It is not likely to be confused with any other species of the genus, but it is sometimes mistaken for Thelypteris palustris (Linnaeus) Schott, T . interrupta (Willdenow) K. Iwatsuki, or Osmunda cinnamomea . It may be distinguished from the first by having netted venation, from the second by having linear sori, and from Osmunda by having blackish petiole bases.
Rhizome 6-10 mm thick; lvs monomorphic, to 14 dm, the petiole purplish-brown, shining, the blade lance-oblong, to 5 נ2.5 dm, acuminate, pinnate- pinnatifid, the pinnae 15-20 pairs, pinnatifid with a rachis 1-1.5 mm wide, the segments 15-20 pairs, ovate to broadly oblong, with cartilaginous margins; veins forming a single series of areoles along the costa and costules, otherwise free, indusia thin, soon recurved, those along the costules only 1-1.5 mm, those along the costae larger; 2n=70. Swamps and moist places in acid soil; N.S. to Fla., w. to Ont., Mich., Ill., and Tex.; Bermuda. (Anchistea v.)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.