Pioneer Valley Fern Society

Another Great Wood Fern.

Mountain Wood Fern

It is always fun when we are surprised to find a fern that is not normally in our immediate area. We were in Petersham recently and were seeing mostly the normal collection of ferns, when we happened on this wood fern. Mountain Wood Fern (Dryopteris campyloptera) is listed as present in Worcester, Franklin and Berkshire counties and in northern New England and much of New York. It is usually found in cool, moist woods, and at higher elevations in the southern part of its range. We have found it very common on the top of Mt. Greylock. I saw it as the most common understory fern on a mountain in northern VT last year.

Mountain Wood Fern is much wider than our common Evergreen Wood Fern. Besides how broad the leaf blade is, the top of the fern narrows quickly to a point, rather than gradually as in most ferns. An important feature is that the lower innermost pinnule or subleaflet is longer than the others, and the the pinnules above it on the same leaflet are offset, with the innermost upper one short and stubby. You can see this on the fern in this photo. This fern is deciduous, it does not overwinter. The species name, campyloptera, comes from the latin (curved) and greek (wing), which describes the way the ends of the pinnae or leaflets tend to curve upwards.

Keep your eyes out for this relatively uncommon fern when you are at higher elevations in New England.

A reminder that we will be having our next free public fern walk on Sunday July 23rd from 1-3PM. It will be at Barton Cove in Gill. There is always a nice breeze coming off the water there, and we usually see about 20 different species of ferns. Check out the Calendar listing for the poster with directions. Hope to see you there!