Pioneer Valley Fern Society

Favorite Ferns

Grape Ferns

Dissected Grape Fern

Grape ferns are small succulent ferns that are easily overlooked and frequently eaten by deer. They are named Grape Ferns because the top of their fertile fronds or sporophores look like little bunches of grapes. In this photo taken July 20th, the sterile blade is yellow because it was suffering from our hot dry spell, but this is the part of the fern that usually persists (sometimes turning bronze colored) over winter. The fertile fronds are emerging now and starting to uncurl their grape-like sporangia. The most common grape fern in our area is Dissected Grape Fern (Sceptridium dissectum). It comes in 2 forms, very dissected and less dissected, this photo being the latter. Grape Ferns are lovely delicate looking ferns that grow in a variety of habitats, but not commonly found. Consider yourself fortunate if you find them! These are along a section of the Amherst-Belchertown Rail Trail.