Toxic Parts:
Flower Color:
  • flower color
woodlands, waterside, ornamental

Geographical Distribution

Sensitive fern distribution - United States

Sensitive Fern

Onoclea sensibilis

Bead Fern
4/ 10
Sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis) is a medium to large-sized deciduous perennial fern. It is native to China and eastern Asia, however was introduced into the United States in the 1800s, where it is now found throughout eastern North America, in moist areas and wood habitats, such as open woods, riverbanks, wet meadows, thickets, bogs, and roadside ditches.

Sensitive Fern Toxic Components

Sensitive fern contains chemicals which can cause damage to the liver, causing cerebral edema with neuronal degeneration. Poisoning by sensitive fern is rare, as horses need to consume large quantities over an extended period of time to have any effects.

What Sensitive Fern Looks Like

Sensitive ferns have bright, yellow-green fronds that sprout along a creeping rhizome, and can grow up to 35 in (90 cm) in length. the fertile fronds, however, look completely different, and appear as clusters of beads (hence the nickname "bead fern" or grapes along upright fronds, which are not green but more of a mix of medium to dark brown color.