Botrychium lunaria (L.) Sw.
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Family: Ophioglossaceae
Genus: Botrychium
Species Synonyms: Botrychium onondagense Underwood
Botrychium lunaria var. onondagense (Underwood) House
Common Names: common moonwort
moonwort grapefern
Canada: Yukon Territory – southern Keewatin District – Ungava – Labrador, south to southern British Columbia – east-central Saskatchewan – Ontario – Nova Scotia – Newfoundland
Saskatchewan: widely distributed; Cypress Hills – Southend
Ecoregion: Cypress Upland, Moist Mixed Grassland, Aspen Parkland, Boreal Transition, Mid-Boreal Upland, Mid-Boreal Lowland, Churchill River Upland
 Saskatchewan: semi-open to open woods, drying prairie sloughs, and moist meadows
Associated species: Achillea millefolium, Antennaria parvifolia, Astragalus crassicarpus, Carex aurea, Halenia deflexa, Hesperostipa comata, Parnassia palustris, Picea glauca, Pulsatilla patens ssp. patens, Salix sp., Shepherdia canadensis
Provincial Status According
to Harms (2003):
Nature Conservancy Status:
G4T4 S1T1
Saskatchewan Species at
Risk Status:
Botrychium lunaria is threatened in Saskatchewan because it is rare or uncommon and is limited to two or three general locations in the province. The populations are almost always locally sparse. No immediate threats have been identified for this species.
Height: < 25 cm, stout, fleshy
Stipe: common stalk 2 – 10 cm long, sheath enclosing bud
Fronds: solitary, sterile blade sessile or short-stalked, stalk 0 – 1 mm long, inserted about the middle of the plant, blade to 2 – 5 cm long, 1 – 2 cm wide, oblong, once pinnate, thick, fleshy; pinnae 3 – 9 pairs, 2 – 8 mm long, wider than long, spreading, overlapping, distance between first and second pinnae equal to or slightly more than between second and third pairs, broadly fan-shaped, midrib absent, basal pinnae equal in size to second pair, margin entire or undulate or dentate; fertile stalk 2 – 8 cm long, blade 1 – 2 times as long as the sterile blade, 1 – 2 times pinnate
Sporangia: sessile, crowded laterally on branches, globose
Spores: small, yellow
1 Sterile blades 5 – 25 cm long, deltate, 2 – 4 times pinnately compound; fertile blades may be absent; plants over 12 cm tall
1 Sterile blades 2 – 5 cm long or absent, oblong to linear or deltate, simple to pinnate or pinnatifed; fertile blades always present; plants generally less than 15 cm tall
2 Sterile blades thin; sheaths on stipe open; fertile blades, when present, arising from high on common stalk; common stalk usually longer than 10 cm, glabrous
B. virginianum
2 Sterile blades herbaceous or thick to leathery; sheaths on stipe closed; sporophores, when present, arising from the basal portion of the common stalk; common stalk less than 8 cm long, somewhat hairy
B. multifidum
3 Sterile blades linear to oblong, simple to lobed; plants in deep shade under shrubs and trees
B. simplex
3 Sterile blades linear to deltate, pinnate or absent; plants usually in exposed sites
4 Distance between first and second pinnae greater than that between second and third pairs
B. simplex
4 Distance between first and second pinnae equal to or slightly more than between second and third pairs
5 Sterile blades present, basal pinnae fan-shaped to spatulate, midrib absent
5 Sterile may be replaced by fertile blade, basal pinnae oblanceolate to linear to ovate, midrib present
6 Sterile blades ovate to deltate
B. simplex
6 Sterile blades oblong to lanceolate
7 Sterile blades thick and leathery, dark greyish-green to yellowish; basal pinnae broadly fan-shaped
B. lunaria
7 Sterile blades thin (except B. campestre), dark to light green or yellowish; basal pinnae narrowly fan-shaped or cuneate to linear
8 Sterile blades folded longitudinally, up to 5 pairs of pinnae; plants of prairies or meadows
B. campestre
8 Sterile blades flat or folded only at the base, up to 10 pairs of pinnae; plants of woodlands
B. minganense
9 Sterile blade replaced by fertile blade, resulting in two fertile blades
B. paradoxum
9 Sterile blade present, distinct from fertile blade
10 Sterile blades subsessile, blades deltate; fertile blades divided equally several times, about equal to 2.5 times longer than sterile blades
B. lanceolatum
10 Sterile blades ovate to oblong or deltate; fertile blades with one main axis, 2 – 4 times longer than sterile blades
11 Sterile blade long-stalked, stalk equal to length of blade; few sporangia may be present on the basal pinnae of sterile blade
B. pedunculosum
11 Sterile blade sessile to short-stalked, stalk less than ¼ length of blade; sporangia never present on basal pinnae of sterile blade
B. hesperium