Species At Risk

Broad Beech Fern

(Phegopteris hexagonoptera)
Special Concern
Broad Beech Fern
Broad Beech Fern occurrences map


The Broad Beech Fern has fronds (large divided leaves) which can grow from approximately 25 to 75 centimetres long. The leaf blade is broadly triangular, 15 to 30 centimeters or more long and about as wide at the base, tapering to the top.

Action we are taking:


The Broad Beech Fern grows in eastern North America from the southern Great Lakes region west to southeast Kansas and northeast Oklahoma, south to northeast Texas and the Gulf Coast and east to the Atlantic coast. In Ontario, the species is found in forest remnants in southern Muskoka, along Lake Erie, and in the eastern Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River region.


The Broad Beech Fern prefers to grow in rich soils in deciduous forests, often in areas dominated by maple and beech trees. It requires moist soil and usually grows in full shade.


Ontario is the northern limit for this species. Historical records suggest that the species was once more widespread in Ontario with approximately 70 occurrences known, most of which are now deemed historical. It may have declined in Ontario as forests were cleared.


Broad Beech Fern is listed as a species of Special Concern under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act. Although this species does not receive protection under this act because of its Special Concern status, there are some populations along Lake Erie that are in provincial parks, where they receive some protection.

For more information on legislation that helps protect Ontario's species at risk visit ontario.ca/speciesatrisk.

What You Can Do to Help the Broad Beech Fern

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as the Broad Beech Fern. You can use a handy online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful. nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in species recovery. You may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats. For more information, visit: ontario.ca/speciesatrisk.
  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
  • The Carolinian forests of southern Ontario support an amazing diversity of plants and wildlife, including many species at risk. Carolinian Canada is working to help recover species at risk and their habitats. For more information, visit: www.carolinian.org/SpeciesHabitats.htm.

Did you know?

Broad Beech Fern reproduces through spores. The spores are contained in a case-like structure called a sporangium. The sporangia burst upon maturity at the end of summer and the spores are scattered through the air.

Did you know?

The stem of the Broad Beech Fern is described as creeping, scaly and somewhat pulpy.

Did you know?

The Broad Beech Fern is a member of the “marsh fern” family, Thelypteridaceae.

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.