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bladder fern

bladder fern (Cystopteris bulbifera)
Photo © John Hilty

Features and Behaviors

The bladder fern has long, thin, triangular leaves that are often seen growing over the edges of cliffs. It is not evergreen. On average, each leaf is about eight inches long and three inches wide. However, a leaf may be as long as three to five feet. The leaf is widest at the base, narrowing to a long point. The leaflet is about two inches long and droops at the end. The rachis is yellow. The short, yellow stalk has a black base.

The bladder fern may be found in the Illinois counties that border the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. It grows on limestone cliffs and in woodlands. Spores are produced from June through September.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Polypodiopsida
Order: Polypodiales
Family: Dryopteridaceae

Illinois Status: common, native