Ontario Ferns website

Rattlesnake Fern
Botrypus virginianus
(formerly Botrychium virginianum)

Rattlesnake Fern (Botrypus virginianus) Other common names: Virginia Grape Fern

Other scientific names: Botrychium virginianum, Osmunda virginiana

French names: Botryche de Virginie

Family: Adder's Tongue Family (Ophioglossaceae)

Similar species:
  •   Grape Ferns - fertile stalk separates from main stem below leaves.

  •   Oak Fern (Gymnocarpium dryopteris) - stalk much thinner; whole plant more delicate; lacks fertile stalk.

  •   Robert's Fern (Gymnocarpium robertianum) - very similar to Rattlesnake Fern.

  •   Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) - larger; lacks fertile stalk.

Fronds: Thrice divided;  Three main leaves (fronds).

Height: 12-38 cm (5-15 in)

Habitat: Forests

Native/Non-native: Native

Status: Common.

Origin and Meaning of Names:
 Scientific Name: virginianum: of Virginia


Photographs: 168 photographs available, of which 11 are featured on this page. SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOGRAPHS.

Range Map is at the bottom of the page

Rattlesnake Fern (Botrypus virginianus)

Rattlesnake Fern is distinguished from the Grape Ferns by its single stem that holds both the three fronds as well as the fertile stalk.

Rattlesnake Fern (Botrypus virginianus)

Rattlesnake Fern (Botrypus virginianus)

It has three fronds arranged evenly around the stem. The fertile stalk sticks straight up from the center.

Rattlesnake Fern (Botrypus virginianus)

Fertile stalk unfurling (mid-May).

Rattlesnake Fern (Botrypus virginianus)

Rattlesnake Fern (Botrypus virginianus)

A plant without a fertile stalk.

Rattlesnake Fern (Botrypus virginianus)

Unfurling in the spring (early May).

Rattlesnake Fern (Botrypus virginianus)

Closeup of a young fertile stalk.

Rattlesnake Fern (Botrypus virginianus)

A more developed fertile stalk.

Rattlesnake Fern (Botrypus virginianus)

Closeup of part of a fully developed fertile stalk, showing unopened sori.

Rattlesnake Fern (Botrypus virginianus)

Herbarium specimen showing the full plant, including roots.

(Royal Botanical Gardens Herbarium,Burlington,Ontario).


Range map for Rattlesnake Fern (Botrypus virginianus)

PLEASE NOTE: A coloured Province or State means this species occurs somewhere in that Province/State.
The entire Province/State is coloured, regardless of where in that Province/State it occurs.

(Range map provided courtesy of the USDA website and is displayed here in accordance with their Policies)