|Connecticut Botanical Society|
Photos & Information
Plant ID Guides
Cut-leaved Grape Fern (Dissected Grape Fern)
Botrychium dissectum (Sceptridium dissectum)
Cut-leaved grape fern is variable in appearance. The plant photographed shows the lacy leaf margin that gives this fern its name, but some plants have smooth-edged leaves. (The lower photo shows a plant that is probably a smooth-edged variety of this fern.) Both types can be confused with the rattlesnake fern. Cut-leaved fern has leathery, evergreen fronds, in contrast to the thinner, deciduous fronds of the rattlesnake fern. Autumn is a good time to hunt for the cut-leaved grape fern, as the fronds are still bright green when most plants are turning brown. In winter, cut-leaved grape fern turns bronzy-green.
Grape ferns are named for the round, clustered spore cases, which have some resemblance to a bunch of grapes.
A cut-leaf grape fern plant has only a single frond. The sterile part is in the center of the photo. In fall, mature plants grow a single fertile section, which stands on a long stalk above the sterile part. In this photo, the base of the fertile section's stalk is visible in back.