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Dryopteris fragrans (L.) Schott

Photo: Dryopteris fragrans

Fragrant Cliff Wood-fern

Habitat: Dry cliffs and rocky banks (often calcareous). [Rocky summits and outcrops (non-forested, upland); Alpine or subalpine (non-forested, upland)]

Range: Circumboreal, south to northern New England and west to Minnesota.

Aids to Identification: A small, aromatic, evergreen fern usually surrounded by dead fronds at its base. The fronds are 6-25 cm long and 4-5 cm across; the sori on the undersides of the pinnae are brown. The separation between the leaflets on the leaves gives the plant a delicate appearance.

Photo: Dryopteris fragrans frond showing sori

Ecological characteristics: This fern is limited to cool, dry, sometimes shaded cliffs or banks, the rocks sometimes are calcareous or basic, but other times acidic.

Phenology: Perennial, semi-evergreen; the old fronds remaining attached to the plant long after they are withered and brown.

Family: Polypodiaceae

Synonyms: Known as Polypodium fragrans L. in old treatments

Photo: Dryopteris fragrans

Known Distribution in Maine: This rare plant has been documented from a total of 36 town(s) in the following county(ies): Aroostook, Cumberland, Franklin, Hancock, Kennebec, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, Washington.

Dates of documented observations are: 1885, 1895, 1906, 1916, 1932 (2), 1937, 1943 (3), 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1958, 1959, 1965, 1976, 1981 (2), 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989 (2), 1991, 1992 (2), 1993 (2), 1995, 2000 (2), 2001 (3), 2003

Reason(s) for rarity: At southern limit of range, habitat naturally scarce.

Conservation considerations: Known populations are in remote locations, not particularly vulnerable to human activities.