Pioneer Valley Fern Society

2022-2023 Winter Ferns

#2 Wall Rue

Our first Winter Fern (Christmas Fern) is one of the most common ferns you will see in our region. Our second Winter Fern is one of the least common in our area. It is called Wall Rue (Asplenium ruta-muraria). It is related to the Mountain Spleenwort highlighted in our news article posted 12/7/22. The Aspleniaceae family is probably my favorite fern family. They are beautiful and look so delicate & fragile, but they grow in such harsh conditions they are clearly more hardy than one would think by appearance.

Wall Rue is considered an evergreen fern, and is found growing in full to partial shade on usually bare calcareous (& almost inaccessible!) rock faces. As you can see in the Randy's photo, next to his finger it is very small. Steve Chadde (Northeast Ferns) states that it is "Our smallest and only spleenwort of the region with a triangular-shaped blade (in outline)". I don't think it looks very triangular, but maybe fan-shaped, and they are distinctive. He shows them being found in Franklin, Hampden and Berkshire counties in MA. This site is in Franklin County.

If you see any of these while out on your rock-climbing adventures we would love to know about it!

I made a list of the ferns I found along North Mountain Rd in Sunderland (part of Mt. Toby) on December 31st. With no snow cover I was able to find many of our usual ferns that have faded for the year but have some dried up fronds still identifiable. There were a total of 21 ferns I could identify, 9 of them evergreen or overwintering. These still-green ferns include Christmas; Evergreen, Marginal, Crested & Clinton's Wood Ferns; Ebony & Maidenhair Spleenworts; Walking Fern and Common Polypody. I put a copy of the full list on our website under Downloads/Fern List for Walks. Keep your eyes out for these on your winter hikes!


Pioneer Valley Fern Society

321 Montague Road
Shutesbury, MA 01072