Pioneer Valley Fern Society

Moonworts

Another fern to be on the lookout for!

This is a great time of year to be out looking for ferns. This is my most recent new fern, which I saw totally by chance while hiking out in the rain last Wednesday. Maybe the rain helped to highlight it a bit.

It is called a Lance-Leaf Moonwort, Botrychium lanceolatum. It was only a few inches high. Found in moist rich mixed deciduous-coniferous woods, Moonworts have a close association with mycorrhizal fungi. This one is in a woods which also has Rattlesnake, Maidenhair & Grape ferns.

According to S. Chadde (Northeast Ferns), a Moonwort was first described in 1542 by Fuchs, and in 1753 by Linnaeus. The name comes from the greek "botrys" (cluster) for the cluster of sporangia (spore cases), and the Old English word "wyrt" meaning herb, for supposed medicinal purposes. There are about 30 species in North America, and 8 in our Northeast U.S. area. We think there are two different species of Moonwort at this site.

If you see any of these, we would love to know about it, and maybe where to see it. At least send us a photo!

Janice & Randy

Posted: to General News on Wed, Jun 29, 2022
Updated: Wed, Jun 29, 2022

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    Shutesbury, MA 01072