Leaves monomorphic, dying back in winter, 35–120 × 15–40 cm. Petiole 1/3 length of leaf, scaly at base; scales scattered, dark, glossy brown to nearly black, with pale border. Blade green, often white-mottled at tip, ovate, tapering abruptly at apex, pinnate-pinnatifid to 2-pinnate at base, herbaceous, not glandular. Pinnae parallel to plane of blade, ovate-lanceolate, broadest above base; basal pinnae broadly oblong-lanceolate, slightly reduced, basal pinnule equal to adjacent pinnules, basal basiscopic pinnule and basal acroscopic pinnule equal; pinnule margins crenulate or serrate. Sori nearer midvein than margin. Indusia and axes lacking glands. 2n = 82.
Habitat: Dense, moist woods, especially ravines, limey seeps, or at the edge of swamps
Elevation: 50–1500 m
N.B., Ont., Que., Ala., Conn., Del., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Ky., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Mo., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Pa., R.I., Tenn., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis.
Dryopteris goldieana is diploid and is one of the parents of D. celsa and of D. clintoniana. Dryopteris goldieana hybridizes with five species. Hybrids can be identified by the glossy dark scales and large blade size. A remarkable additional hybrid (× Dryostichum singulare W. H. Wagner), involving this species and Polystichum lonchitis, is known from Gray and Simcoe counties, Ontario. It is intermediate between the parents and is sterile (W. H. Wagner Jr., F. S. Wagner et al. 1992).