Leaves monomorphic, green through winter, 6--40 × 1--6 cm, old leaves persistent as gray or brown conspicuous clump at plant base (only in this species). Petiole 1/3 length of leaf, scaly throughout; scales dense, brown to red-brown. Blades green, linear-lanceolate, pinnate-pinnatifid to 2-pinnate, papery, densely scaly (only in this species) abaxially, glandular, aromatic when handled (only in this species). Pinnae ± in plane of blade, linear-oblong; basal pinnae linear-oblong, much reduced, basal pinnules longer than adjacent pinnules, basal basiscopic pinnule and basal acroscopic pinnule equal; pinnule margins crenately toothed. Sori midway between midvein and margin of segments. Indusia glandular. 2 n = 82. Shaded cliffs and talus, often of limestone; 50--1800 m; Greenland; Alta., B.C., Man., N.B., Nfld., N.W.T., N.S., Ont., Que., Sask., Yukon; Alaska, Maine, Mich., Minn., N.H., N.Y., Vt., Wis.; Europe in n Finland; Asia in n, nw former Soviet republics. Dryopteris fragrans is a northern species and is not closely related to the other species in North America. The only hybrid known to involve D . fragrans is with D . marginalis , producing D . × algonquinensis D. Britton.
Plants Woodsia-like in aspect; rhizomes ±erect; lvs evergreen (and long-persistent after death), firm, fragrant, glandular and scaly; petiole short, to 7 cm; blade lance-linear, pinnate-pinnatifid, to 30 נ5.5 cm, acuminate, gradually narrowed below, the lowest pinnae very small; pinnae numerous and crowded, mostly 15-25 pairs, linear-oblong, to 27 נ8 mm, with 6-10 pairs of oblong, obtuse, crenate segments to 5 mm, not spinulose; veins obscure, 2-3 pairs per segment; sori large, often only 1-4 per segment; indusia glandular-margined; 2n=82. Cliff-crevices, often on limestone; interruptedly circumboreal, s. to N. Y., Ont., n. Mich., Wis., and Minn.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.