Pioneer Valley Fern Society

Fall Ferns

Purple-stem Cliffbrake

Winter does not officially start until December 21st, so here is one more "Fall Fern." It is evergreen, so it qualifies as a winter fern as well.

The Purple-stem Cliffbrake (Pellaea atropurpurea) is a lovely, delicate fern that grows on ledges, talus slopes and in rock crevices of cliff faces. It is uncommon in MA & VT, and extremely rare in NH & RI. Although there are 15 species of Cliffbrake in the US, most are in the arid Southwest. This is the only species found in MA.

Randy and I have been looking for sites around here for quite a while. Last year R. Cairl found some on a steep cliff face at Mt. Toby. Recently K. Saunders found some at a site in Greenfield, and where you can see it without binoculars! Thanks to them both for this great information. If any others see this fern (or think it might be), let us know. We would love to see it too!