Leathery Grape Fern
Randy & I have been studying to learn how to accurately identify the different grape ferns found in Western MA. We decided we needed to see a verified example of the Leathery Grape Fern (Sceptridium multifidum). There are plenty of Dissected Grape Ferns (Sceptridium dissectum), and we have found Blunt-lobe Grape Fern (Sceptridium oneidense), but the Leathery Grape Fern had eluded us. Most reports of their locations in Franklin County are west of the Connecticut River. Thanks to our fern friend Ted, we found a site in Ludlow VT with wonderful examples of this fern. If you look at the range map in Chadee (Northeast Ferns) for this fern, you would think it must be common around here (east of the River), but it isn't.
The Leathery Grape Fern is our largest grape fern, and having seen it in person, I must say it is distinctive! The sterile leaf (blade) & stalk are rubbery (or "leathery") to the touch. As you can see in the photo, the sporophore is quite spectacular, especially in the bright sun. The one in the photo was probably about 8" tall. These ferns generally grow in sunny poor sandy sites. If you think you have seen any around here, let us know, we would love to see them too!
We are starting to wind down our fern season, but the grape ferns are coming on strong now with the late in the season rains. They are popping up in many places, so be on the lookout for them. I have posted our Friday after Thanksgiving hike to the Sunderland Caves at Mt Toby on our website calendar. November 25th, from 1-3 PM. More reminders later!
321 Montague Road
Shutesbury, MA 01072