Botrychium minganense

Mingan Moonwort

Mingan Moonwort, Photo courtesy Wisconsin State Herbarium and Tim Ditzman
Mingan Moonwort
Photo courtesy Wisconsin State Herbarium and Tim Ditzman

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


  • Botyrichium, from the Greek botrus (botrys), "grape"; the Grape Ferns
  • minganense, from the Latin "of Mingan", for Mingan Island, in the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence
  • Common Name, from the moon shaped leaflets
  • Other common names include Mingan Island Grape Fern, Botryche de Mingan (Qué)


  • 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: 17186
  • Also known as Botrychium lunaria var. minganense
  • 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 rare little succulent fern, usually less than 6" tall.
  • Sterile Frond a single leaf, to 4", narrowly oblong to linear in overall outline,subdivided into up to 10 pairs of narrow, fan shaped leaflets, separately spaced and not overlapping; dull green in color.
  • Fertile frond slightly taller, rising from base and arching over the single compound leaf; large spores in pendant clusters at tip. Spores released July to October.
  • Stem only about 2" long, hollow and fleshy.
  • Rootstalk upright; roots few, short, horizontally spreading.


  • Identifiable as a Moonwort by its distinctive leaf, unlike anything else in the North Woods
  • Distinguished from the Common Moonwort (Botrychium lunaria) by its narrower leaflets which are separated on the leaf stem and do not overlap.
  • Field Marks
    • Diminutive size
    • Succulent stem
    • Upright growth habit
    • Single leaf with "half moon" leaflets which do not overlap


  • From Alaska, throughout boreal Canada, southward into all the western mountain states to Arizona, and eastward along the northern tier of states, to the Atlantic Canadian Provinces and New England.
  • Mingan Moonwort is listed as a "Species of Special Concern" in Minnesota.







  • Reproduces by spores


  • By spores (difficult)


  • Hardy to USDA Zone 2 (average minimum annual temperature -50ºF)
  • Generally not suitable for the home garden.
  • Not available commercially and too rare to be collected from the wild.



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Last Updated on 26 February, 2004