Woodsia alpina (Bolton) S.F. Gray
northern cliff fern
New England Distribution
Adapted from BONAP data
Non-native: introduced (intentionally or unintentionally); has become naturalized.
Found this plant? Take a photo and post a sighting.
Northern cliff fern is a rare fern from high-pH cliffs in Maine and Vermont. Petioles are red-brown to purple near the base, which helps to separate some individuals from the closely-related smooth cliff fern (Woodsia glabella) with green or yellow-brown petiole bases.
Cliffs, balds, or ledges, ridges or ledges
- New England state
- Features of leaves
- there are no special features on the leaves
- New England state
- Specific habitat
- cliffs, balds, or ledges
- ridges or ledges
New England Distribution and Conservation Status
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.
- extremely rare (S-rank: S1), threatened (code: T)
- extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)
Native to North America?
Sometimes Confused With
- Acrostichum alpinum Bolton
- Woodsia alpina (Bolton) S.F. Gray var. bellii Lawson
- Woodsia glabella R. Br. ex Richards. var. bellii (Lawson) Lawson
Need Help?Get Help
Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae
1. Woodsia alpina (Bolton) S.F. Gray NC
northern cliff fern. Acrostichum alpinum Bolton; Woodsia alpina (Bolton) S.F. Gray var. bellii Lawson; W. glabella R. Br. ex Richards. var. bellii (Lawson) Lawson • ME, VT; also reported from NH by Windham (1993b), but specimens are unknown. High-pH rock of cliffs. An allotetraploid derived from Woodsia glabella and W. ilvensis. Forms of this species with relatively few scales and hairs are sometimes confused with W. glabella. They can be separated by their petioles that are red-brown to purple near the base (vs. green or yellow-brown throughout in W. glabella).
1×3. Woodsia alpina × Woodsia ilvensis → Woodsia ×gracilis (Lawson) Butters is a rare, abortive-spored hybrid. Compared with W. alpina, this hybrid fern tends to be larger, with more hairs and scales, and with leaflets more divided and with more pairs of leafules (often more than 3). Compared with W. ilvensis, this nothospecies tends to be smaller, with fewer hairs and scales, and with leaflets less divided.