Native to western North America, the Chain Fern prefers coniferous forests and other moist and woody areas. The leaves are lined with short, neat sori that give these plants their name. These patterns are what make the Chain Fern so unique from others. The chain shape can be seen on each side of the leaflets. The Chain Fern is preferred now as an ornamental plant and is used in natural landscaping as well as projects centered around habitat restoration. Its rate of growth depends on how well it is cared for, including the amount of watering and whether or not the plant is potted.
Chain Ferns are an attractive choice for developing a garden with a green, low-growing cover. The ferns can create the effect of being in a forest or along a trail. The plants are also evergreen with long, dark green, and arching fronds. The fronds bear oblong leaves with finely toothed leaflets. This structure creates a soft look in the leaves. Each frond has a bud at its tip which is capable of taking root and growing into a new plant should the tip touch the ground. The plant also issues some rhizomes which creep from the plant to create new shoots and roots, another mechanism for the plant to spread. While these ferns are often enjoyed for landscaping purposes, their populations are also being threatened by a lack of adequate habitats. Between forests being cleared and water being extracted for agriculture, the Chain Ferns are finding themselves very challenged to maintain their population. Regardless, they continue to be used as a landscaping plant