Asplenium trichomanes L.

maidenhair spleenwort

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Maidenhair spleenwort is divided into two subspecies, one (Asplenium trichomanes ssp. trichomanes) that grows in crevices of acidic rocks and one (A. trichomanes ssp. quadrivalens) that grows on more basic (alkaline) rocks.

Habitat

Cliffs, balds, or ledges, ridges or ledges, talus and rocky slopes

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Leaf divisions
the leaf blade is compound (divided into leaflets)
Plant growth form
the leaves grow from a rhizome growing at or below the ground
Spore-bearing leaflets
the spore-bearing fronds are similar in size and shape to the sterile fronds
Sorus shape
the sori are long and narrow, and straight
Leaf stalk scales
  • the leaf stalk has scales
  • there are no scales on the leaf stalk
Leaf stalk hairs
there are no hairs on the leaf stalk
Leaf blade length
3–22 cm
Leaf vein tips
the veins end in small round expanded areas, and do not reach the edge of the leaf blade
Show All Characteristics
  • Growth form
    Life form
    the plant is herbaceous and terrestrial
    Life stage
    the plant is visible as a typical leaf-bearing fern (sporophyte)
    Spore-bearing leaflets
    the spore-bearing fronds are similar in size and shape to the sterile fronds
  • Leaves
    Features of leaves
    there are no special features on the leaves
    Leaf blade length
    3–22 cm
    Leaf blade shape
    the leaf blades are long and very narrow (linear)
    Leaf blade tip shape
    the tip of the leaf blade is a blunt point (obtuse)
    Leaf blade width
    At least 0.5 cm
    Leaf divisions
    the leaf blade is compound (divided into leaflets)
    Leaf lifespan
    the leaves remain green all year round, or are green in winter
    Leaf stalk color
    red or red-brown to purple or black
    Leaf stalk hairs
    there are no hairs on the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk length
    10–70 mm
    Leaf stalk relative length
    the leaf stalk is up to a quarter as long as the blade
    Leaf stalk scale location
    the scales are present only on the lower half of the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk scales
    • the leaf stalk has scales
    • there are no scales on the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk vessels
    2 bundles
    Leaf vein branching
    the secondary veins of the leaf blade branch dichotomously (two equal branches at each branch point)
    Leaf vein tips
    the veins end in small round expanded areas, and do not reach the edge of the leaf blade
    Leaflet relative size
    the bottom leaflets are about half as long as, to slightly longer than, the leaflets from the middle of the frond
    Leaflet stalks
    the leaflets do not have stalks
    Lobe or leaflet length
    25–80 mm
    Lobe or leaflet pairs
    15–35
    Lobe or leaflet shape
    • the lobe or leaflet is rectangular but with rounded ends (oblong)
    • the lobe or leaflet is roughly egg-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle (obovate)
    • the lobe or leaflet is widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends; egg-shaped
    Lobe or leaflet width
    2.5–4 mm
    Plant growth form
    the leaves grow from a rhizome growing at or below the ground
    final leaf segment margin
    • the topmost lobe or leaflet of the leaf blade has a smooth or lobed edge
    • the topmost lobe or leaflet of the leaf blade has an edge with teeth
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • cliffs, balds, or ledges
    • ridges or ledges
    • talus or rocky slopes
  • Spores or spore cones
    Sorus features
    there are no special features on the sorus
    Sorus shape
    the sori are long and narrow, and straight
    Sporangia location
    the spores are clustered on sori on the lower surface of the leaf blade
    Sporangium type
    the sporangia are opaque without an annulus and usually without a stalk (leptosporangiate)
    Spore forms
    there is only one type of spore present

Wetland Status

Occurs only in non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: UPL)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)
New Hampshire
unrankable (S-rank: SU), Ind (code: Ind)
Rhode Island
rare (S-rank: S2), concern (code: C)

ssp. quadrivalens

Massachusetts
rare (uncertain) (S-rank: S2?)

ssp. trichomanes

Massachusetts
S? (uncertain) (S-rank: S?)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Asplenium viride:
rachis green and middle leaflets 4-5 mm wide (vs. A. trichomanes, with the rachis red-brown to nearly black and middle leaflets 2.5-4 mm wide).

Family

Aspleniaceae

Genus

Asplenium

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Asplenium trichomanes L. ssp. trichomanes is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, VT.A. trichomanes ssp. quadrivalens D.E. Mey. is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

5.  Asplenium trichomanes L. N

maidenhair spleenwort. CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT; nearly throughout. Growing on cliffs, boulders, and talus. Characters for the following key were extracted from Ekrt and Štech (2008). Those listed in Moran (1982), who drew on European studies of this species, do not appear to be useful for New England populations.

1a.  Marginal cells of rachis wings ascending, often longer than wide, rounded at the apex; distance between petiolules on same side of rachis near apex of leaf blade 2–4 mm; terminal leaflet 3–7 mm wide; spores mostly 34–43 μm; plants primarily of circumneutral to basic rock 
 … 5a. A. trichomanes ssp. quadrivalens D.E. Mey.

1b.  Marginal cells of rachis wings nearly perpendicular to plant axis, often as wide or wider than long, truncate at the apex; distance between petiolules as measured in 1a 3–7 mm; terminal leaflet 1.5–4 mm wide; spores mostly 29–36 μm; plants mostly of acidic rock 
 … 5b. A. trichomanes ssp. trichomanes

Subspecies quadrivalens is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Subspecies trichomanes is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, VT.

5a×5b.  Asplenium trichomanes L. nssp. lusaticum (D.E. Mey.) Lawalrée is a 
very rare spleenwort hybrid in New England known from ME, NH, VT. Given the similarity between the parental subspecies, this nothosubspecies is best identified by its 
abortive spores.

4×5. Asplenium ruta-muraria × Asplenium trichomanes Asplenium ×‌clermontae Syme is an extremely rare spleenwort hybrid known from VT. It resembles A. trichomanes in general outline (i.e., it has once-pinnately compound leaf blades), but the leaflets are lobed (especially the larger ones) and the rachis is green (rather than brown-red to black-brown).