Pioneer Valley Fern Society

Favorite Ferns

Rusty Cliff Fern

Rusty Woodsia

The Rusty Cliff Fern or Rusty Woodsia (Woodsia ilvensis) is not a fern we commonly see on our fern walks, unless we are looking at exposed rock outcrops, such as on Mt. Toby or Skinner Mountain. These small ferns grow in dense clumps often in full sun on exposed rock areas. When the conditions get too dry, they turn brown, but will form green fronds when rain returns. Their fiddleheads are covered with silvery white hairs. One of their most distinctive features is the dense wool on the undersides of the blades, which turns a rusty brown in the fall.

The attached photo shows both the silvery haired fiddlehead and the start of the rusty brown color to the wool on the undersides of the blades.