Botrychium lanceolatum

Lance Leaf Grape Fern

Lance Leaf Grape Fern, Photo Courtesy USDA Plants Database
Lance Leaf Grape Fern
Photo Courtesy USDA Plants Database

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods


  • Botrychium, from the Greek botrus (botrys), "grape"; the Grape Ferns
  • lanceolatum, from the Latin lancea, "lance"; lance-shaped
  • Common Name, from the narrow, pointed shape of the leaf segments
  • Other common names include: Triangle Grape Fern, Triangle Moonwort, Narrow Triangle Moonwort, Botryche lancéolé (Qué), Botrychium à feuilles lancéolées, Botrychium lancéolé, Botrychium élancé (Fr), Topplåsbräken, Handlåsbräken, Spetsbladig Låbräken (Swe), Handmarinøkkel (Nor), Suikeanoidanlukko (Fin), Lensutungljurt (Is), Lanzett-Mondraute (Ger), Miyamahanawarabi (Jpn)


  • Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
    • Division Polypodiophyta, the True Ferns
      • Class Filicopsida
        • Order Ophioglossales
          • Family Ophioglossaceae, the Adder's Tongue or Succulent Ferns
            • Genus Botrychium, the Grape Ferns
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 17178
  • Twelve species of Grape Fern (Botrychium spp.) occur in Canoe Country, all but Rattlesnake Fern (Botrychium virginianum) being rare or extremely rare. These are woodland jewels, rarely seen.


  • A stout, rather fleshy little grape fern of cool moist woods, growing 4"-6" tall. Individuals tend to be inconspicuous and scattered.
  • Sterile Frond a single leaf, broadly triangular and high on stalk, about 1" long, twice cut, and semi-erect, resembling daisy leaf in shape; dark green, smooth, and fleshy. Leaves appear in late spring or early summer, dying as late as October.
  • Fertile frond rises above leaf with erect, branched clusters. Yellow spore cases prominent. Spores borne May/June.
  • Stalk pale green, slender, succulent, and fragile; about 4" long
  • Rootstalk small, upright.
    • Roots smooth, fleshy, and spreading; in deeply rooted, tangled masses.


  • Identifiable as a Grape Fern by its diminutive size, succulent stem, and single leaf.
  • Distinguished from other small Grape Ferns by the broadly triangular leaf attached high on the stem, looking rather like a miniature Rattlesnake Fern (Botrychium virginianum)
  • Field Marks
    • diminutive size
    • succulent stem
    • single broadly triangular leaf high on stem
    • branched clusters on fertile frond


  • Canadian Rockies south into Northwestern Montana. Ontario to Newfoundland, south to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. Also Eurasia.
  • At the western edge of its range in Minnesota, where it is Listed as threatened. In northeastern Minnesota, collected only from St. Louis County.


  • Shaded woods with acid soils.






  • Reproduces by spores


  • By spores (difficult)


  • Hardy to USDA Zone 3 (average minimum annual temperature -40ºF)
  • Not generally cultivated.



Valley Internet Company
Return to Home Page
Send Feedback to Webmaster

Last Updated on 26 February, 2004