Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina)
The Lady Fern is a native species, common throughout Dorset in damp woods, hedgerows, ditches and also amongst rocks and occasionally in marshes. Its liking to similar habitat to the Male Fern makes it harder to tell apart as there is the tendency to think that the Lady Fern is a developing Male Fern when it is, in reality, a different species in its own right.
With a magnifying glass and a good reference book then there are other features that tell them apart from other ferns but I leave that for the specialists!
Once you have mastered the difference between these two plants you are well on the way to sorting Dorset's ferns out, just the two 'Buckler Ferns' to contend with after that. Most of the other ferns are are readily identifiable.