Woodsia alpina (Bolton) S.F. Gray

northern cliff fern

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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

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.

Habitat

Cliffs, balds, or ledges, ridges or ledges

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Maine
  • Vermont
Show All Characteristics
  • Leaves
    Features of leaves
    there are no special features on the leaves
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Maine
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • cliffs, balds, or ledges
    • ridges or ledges

Wetland Status

Not classified

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

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

Conservation Status

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

Maine
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), threatened (code: T)
Vermont
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Woodsia glabella

Synonyms

  • Acrostichum alpinum Bolton
  • Woodsia alpina (Bolton) S.F. Gray var. bellii Lawson
  • Woodsia glabella R. Br. ex Richards. var. bellii (Lawson) Lawson

Family

Woodsiaceae

Genus

Woodsia

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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.