An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Leathery Grape Fern Fruiting

10-4-17 leathery grape fern2 049A5890

There is a group of evolutionarily ancient ferns referred to as “Grape Ferns.” Although they are true ferns, they are only distantly related to the ferns growing today. They derive their common name from the resemblance of their (spore-producing) sporangia to a bunch of tiny grapes. Grape Ferns have two blades. One is sterile and does the photosynthesizing; the other is fertile and bears the grape-like sporangia.

Different species of Grape Fern mature at different times during the summer. Leathery Grape Fern (B. multifidum; Sceptridium multifidum) is the largest of the Grape Ferns. Its triangular, sterile blade is very leathery and fleshy. If the fern is growing in full sun, the stalk of the sterile blade is usually quite short, and the branching, fertile blade rises above it. The spores on the fertile blade mature in late summer or early fall.

4 responses

  1. Alice Pratt

    So much more to learn about!

    October 4, 2017 at 8:19 am

  2. Tom Jones

    Mary – just a note to tell you how wonderful your work is to me (& many, I know). ALL of your work & products, & this daily blog is an important part of my day. Also that you & your family are yet in my (& again, many others’) heart.
    Yours,
    Tom
    Piscataquog Land Conservancy
    New Boston, NH

    October 4, 2017 at 8:21 am

  3. Alan M Stoops

    It wasn’t that long ago that I first was introduced to grape ferns, and I’ve seen only a few since then. They are such interesting ferns, so different from other ferns. Should point out that the “B.” in leathery grape fern’s scientific name stands for the genus name, Botrychium, which isn’t mentioned elsewhere in the posting.

    October 4, 2017 at 11:41 pm

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