Rattlesnake Fern — Botrypus virginianus (L.) Holub

Synonym: Botrychium virginianum (L.) Swartz

Rattlesnake Fern is a fairly common and widespread cosmopolitan fern, found throughout North America and also on several other continents. In North Carolina it is common in the Mountain and Piedmont regions and occurs in about a third of the Coastal Plain counties. Rattlesnake Fern occurs in a wide variety of habitats, but is most common in rich bottomlands.

In Botrypus the petioles of the fertile and sterile fronds are united until well above the ground, in the related genus Sceptridium (grape ferns) they split closer to the ground. Botrypus has thin deciduous leaves, while Sceptridium has firmer evergreen leaves. Formerly these were all in Botrychium.

Durham, NC 4/14/11.

Fertile fronds of Rattlesnake Fern look like they are festooned with miniature grapes, also a feature of the grape ferns.

Durham, NC 4/14/11.

All photographs and text ©2013 by Will Cook unless otherwise noted.