Botrychium simplex E. Hitchc.

least moonwort

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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

The fronds of least moonwort are less dissected and lobed than in other species, hence the specific epithet (simplex). However, this species is, in other respects, highly variable.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), meadows and fields, shores of rivers or lakes

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Leaf divisions
  • the leaf blade is compound (divided into leaflets)
  • the leaf blade is entire (without lobes or dissections)
  • the leaf blade is lobed
Plant growth form
the leaves grow on a stalk that also holds the sporophore, or spore-bearing leaf
Spore-bearing leaflets
the spore-bearing fronds are dramatically different from the sterile fronds
Sorus shape
there are no sori, or they are concealed in leaf segments or hardened, capsule-like structures derived from a modified leaflet
Leaf stalk scales
there are no scales on the leaf stalk
Leaf stalk hairs
there are no hairs on the leaf stalk
Leaf blade length
0.5–2 cm
Leaf vein tips
the veins go all the way to 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 dramatically different from the sterile fronds
  • Leaves
    Features of leaves
    there are no special features on the leaves
    Leaf blade length
    0.5–2 cm
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blades are long and very narrow (linear)
    • the leaf blades are longer than wide, with roughly parallel sides (oblong)
    • the leaf blades are roughly triangular
    • the leaf blades are widest above the base, then taper broadly towards the tip (ovate)
    Leaf blade tip shape
    the tip of the leaf blade is rounded
    Leaf blade width
    At least 0.2 cm
    Leaf divisions
    • the leaf blade is compound (divided into leaflets)
    • the leaf blade is entire (without lobes or dissections)
    • the leaf blade is lobed
    Leaf lifespan
    the leaves drop off in winter
    Leaf stalk color
    • green
    • yellow to brown
    Leaf stalk hairs
    there are no hairs on the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk length
    15–130 mm
    Leaf stalk relative length
    the leaf stalk is more than three quarters as long as the blade
    Leaf stalk scale location
    there are no scales on the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk scales
    there are no scales on the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk vessels
    1 bundle that is circular, oval, or V-shaped
    Leaf vein branching
    the secondary veins of the leaf blade branch dichotomously (two equal branches at each branch point)
    Leaf vein tips
    the veins go all the way to 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
    • the bottom leaflets are at least one and a half times as long as the leaflets from the middle of the frond
    Leaflet stalks
    • the leaflets are stalked
    • the leaflets do not have stalks
    Lobe or leaflet length
    2–64 mm
    Lobe or leaflet pairs
    1–7
    Lobe or leaflet shape
    • the lobe or leaflet is roughly fan-shaped (flabellate)
    • the lobe or leaflet is roughly triangular with the stalk in the center of the widest side (broad-triangular)
    Lobe or leaflet width
    2–17 mm
    Plant growth form
    the leaves grow on a stalk that also holds the sporophore, or spore-bearing leaf
    final leaf segment margin
    the topmost lobe or leaflet of the leaf blade has a smooth or lobed edge
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
    • shores of rivers or lakes
  • Spores or spore cones
    Sorus features
    there are no special features on the sorus
    Sorus shape
    there are no sori, or they are concealed in leaf segments or hardened, capsule-like structures derived from a modified leaflet
    Sporangia location
    the spores are formed on a stalk (sporangiophore)
    Sporangium type
    the spores are enclosed in a hardened, capsule-like structure (sporocarp)
    Spore forms
    there is only one type of spore present

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but occasionally in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACU)

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.

Connecticut
historical (S-rank: SH), special concern, extirpated (code: SC*)
Massachusetts
extremely rare to rare (S-rank: S1S2)
Vermont
rare to uncommon (S-rank: S2S3)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Botrychium tenebrosum:
stalk to vegetative portion of plant inserted high on plant, usually at or above the mid-point, and lowest pair of lobes or leaflets on the vegetative portion of the plant not obviously larger than the next apical pair (vs. B. simplex, with the stalk to the vegetative portion of plant inserted usually near base of plant, and lowest pair of lobes or leaflets on the vegetative portion of the plant obviously larger than the next apical pair).

Genus

Botrychium

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

12.  Botrychium simplex  E. Hitchc. N

least moonwort. CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT; nearly throughout but rare in southeastern New England. Meadows, shorelines, and open rights-of-way. Rare plants in New England show greatly enlarged and pinnately divided lower trophophore leaflets and are superficially similar to the primarily western Botrychium simplex var. compositum (Lasch) Milde (a varietal epithet that may or may not prove to properly apply to North American plants).