Botrychium spathulatum - W.H. Wagner
Spoon-leaf Moonwort
Other English Common Names: spatulate moonwort
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Botrychium spathulatum W.H. Wagner (TSN 506849)
French Common Names: botryche à segments spatulés
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.154092
Element Code: PPOPH01140
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Ferns and relatives
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Filicinophyta Ophioglossopsida Ophioglossales Ophioglossaceae Botrychium
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Botrychium spathulatum
Taxonomic Comments: A tetraploid species first described in 1990. According to Hauk and Haufler (1999), "morphological characters indicate that B. spathulatum is an allopolyploid derivative of the diploids B. lunaria and B. campestre and rbcL data identified B. campestre as the chloroplast parent. However, isozyme data do not support the hypothesis that B. lunaria is the nonchloroplast parent. As currently circumscribed, B. spathulatum may represent a taxon composed of allopolyploid derivatives of B. campestre x B. lunaria and B. campestre x B. crenulatum. This hypothesis... should be tested." In addition to B. campestre, B. lunaria, and B. crenulatum, it is believed to be related to B. pallidum, B. minganense, and B. ascendens. May occasionally hybridize with B. minganense, at least in Ontario (Chadde and Kudray 2001).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 20Jun2008
Global Status Last Changed: 11Aug2000
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This species is known from scattered sites in several regions of northern North America, including the St. Lawrence Valley of Quebec and the maritime provinces; the margins of the upper Great Lakes, lower James Bay, and central Minnesota; western Alberta, northwestern Montana, and southeastern British Columbia; and southern Yukon Territory, adjacent Northwest Territories, and southeastern Alaska. Just 17 mapped occurrences are believed extant, but at least another 23 sites, probably more, presumably exist in jurisdictions where occurrences have not been mapped (e.g. Michigan, where presumably somewhat abundant). Discovery of additional occurrences is expected with further inventory. Populations are generally assumed to be small, although one Ontario population has hundreds of plants, and the species is now known to be fairly common in Kluane National Park, Yukon Territory due to recent research. Threats may include natural succession due to the species' apparent preference for open habitats, but little is known regarding its response to site changes over time. At least some populations appear resilient to moderate anthropogenic disturbance.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3
Nation: Canada
National Status: N3 (03Apr2014)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alaska (S1), Colorado (S1), Michigan (S3), Minnesota (SNR), Montana (S1), Wisconsin (S1), Wyoming (SU)
Canada Alberta (S2), British Columbia (S3), Manitoba (S1), Northwest Territories (S2), Ontario (S2), Quebec (S1), Yukon Territory (S1S2)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Found at scattered sites in several regions of northern North America. In eastern North America, it is known from the St. Lawrence Valley of Quebec as well as the maritime provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island). It is also known from around the margins of the upper Great Lakes and lower James Bay (incl. sites in MI, WI, ON, and QC), with occurrences is central Minnesota and (historically) central Ontario in this region as well. In western North America, it is known from western Alberta and adjacent northwestern Montana and southeastern British Columbia. It is also known from the southern Yukon Territory, adjacent Northwest Territories, and southeastern Alaska (including at leat one site on Kruzof Island). Farrar (2005) notes that "because of the similarity of the species to western forms of B. ascendens and B. minganense the western occurrences have been questioned. However recent collections from Alaska, the Yukon and southeastern British Columbia have proved to be genetically identical to B. spathulatum from the Great Lakes, confirming the widespread occurrence of this taxon in northwestern North America." The "extent" of the range depends greatly on how it is mapped (i.e. how many disjunct clusters of occurrences are presumed to exist). Flora of North America (1993) divides the range into four disjunct clusters, while Farrar (2005) maps just two (eastern and western). Mapping per FNA yields an extent estimate of 660,000 km2, while mapping per Farrar estimates 2,400,000 km2. Farrar's map may be preferred as more occurrences are discovered.

Area of Occupancy: 126-2,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Using a 2 x 2 km grid, Area of Occupancy is estimated to be 100-150 km2, for known and minimum assumed occurrences.

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: 17 occurrences are currently believed extant. At least another 23 sites presumably exist in jurisdictions where occurrences have not been mapped (Michigan, the maritime provinces, British Columbia, Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, and Alaska), many of which may be exant as well; this total is almost certainly an underestimate, particularly in Michigan were only 9 sites can be inferred (from Chadde and Kudray 2001 plus county records) but the species is ranked S3. An additional 11 occurrences are historical and 1 is extirpated. Recently-discovered occurrences include one at Bic provincial Park, Quebec (awaiting ID confirmation) (J. Labrecque pers. comm. 2008) and at least six in the Yukon Territory, where fieldwork and specimen re-determinations have revealed this species to be much more widespread than originally believed (B. Bennett pers. comm. 2008). As with many Botrychium species, further inventory is expected to turn up additional sites for B. spathulatum (Chadde and Kudray 2001).

Population Size Comments: Very little population size information is available, butfrom available counts and patterns in similar Botrychium species, it is assumed that populations are usually small. In Ontario, plants are "rare" at one site, but a second site contains "hundreds of plants" (M. Oldham pers. comm. 2008). In Quebec, the recently-discovered occurrence at Bic provincial Park has less than 10 individuals (J. Labrecque pers. comm. 2008). The Wisconsin population had 10-12 plants when discovered (C. Anderson pers. comm. 2008). Montana sites likely have small numbers of plants (S. Mincemoyer pers. comm. 2008). In the Yukon Territory, the species is "now known as fairly common in Kluane National Park" (B. Bennett pers. comm. 2008), suggesting numerous plants, although quantitative data are not available. Further complicating matters, counts of aboveground plants (mature sporophytes) are known to be an incomplete and inconsistent indicator of population size in Botrychium, because an unknown number of gametophytes, immature sporophytes, and dormant mature sporophytes exist underground. Studies on other Botrychium species have documented large annual fluctuations in the number of aboveground plants at a given site, without any apparent cause (Chadde and Kudray 2001).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very few to few (1-12)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Many occurrences have sparse information and very few have had EO ranks assigned. Currently, just one occurrence has been assessed to have good viability; this site is in Ontario and contains hundreds of plants (M. Oldham pers. comm. 2008). Some other sites, mapped and unmapped, may also have good viability; for example, the species is "now known as fairly common in Kluane National Park", Yukon Territory, where some sites may have good probability of persistence. At this time, however, viability data are generally lacking.

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Little information on threats is available. Because B. spathulatum often occurs in more or less open sites, and sometimes where previously disturbed (e.g., roadsides), threats may include natural plant succession toward closed-canopy conditions (Chadde and Kudray 2001). Succession may occur in situations where the natural disturbance regime is suppressed (e.g. fire suppression) or where the anthropogenic disturbance ceases (e.g. old fields reverting to forest). Given apparent habitat preferences, population viability may be dependent on a shifting mosaic of suitable sites opening for colonization, as occupied sites become overgrown and their generally small populations become vulnerable to local extinction (Chadde and Kudray 2001). However, no information is available on the response of B. spathulatum to various types of site changes. Williston's (2002) observation of a population beside a heavily- and long-used trail in a recently deglaciated landscape suggests that the species is tolerant of light to moderate disturbance and has a reasonably good ability to colonize vacant sites under suitable conditions.

Short-term Trend Comments: Unknown

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Habitats occupied (grassy sidings and ditches along railroad tracks, roadsides, trailsides, old fields, and mine tailings) suggest tolerance of light to moderate anthropogenic disturbance, although successional takeover may eventually become an issue at some sites. It is possible that the species requires a moderate frequency of disturbance (T. Kemper pers. comm. 2008), which may be an asset in some areas but a disadvantage in others. One Alberta population was observed in a recently (approx. 40 years) deglaciated landscape (Williston 2002), suggesting that the species has a reasonably good ability to colonize vacant sites under suitable conditions. In addition, all Botrychium species are believed to be obligately dependent on mycorrhizal relationships in both the gametophyte and sporophyte generations (Chadde and Kudray 2001). This relationship is important to many aspects of Botrychium ecology; mycorrhizae appear to be a key determinant of Botrychium establishment, distribution, and abundance (Chadde and Kudray 2001). In Botrychium, spores persist in the soil for several years and, along with underground gametophytes and developing sporophytes, form a somewhat buffered population that can rebound from unfavorable years, as long as the sporophytes are not destroyed (Chadde and Kudray 2001).

Environmental Specificity Comments: Habitat moisture balance appears to be important to moonworts and their supporting mycorrhizae (Chadde and Kudray 2001).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Found at scattered sites in several regions of northern North America. In eastern North America, it is known from the St. Lawrence Valley of Quebec as well as the maritime provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island). It is also known from around the margins of the upper Great Lakes and lower James Bay (incl. sites in MI, WI, ON, and QC), with occurrences is central Minnesota and (historically) central Ontario in this region as well. In western North America, it is known from western Alberta and adjacent northwestern Montana and southeastern British Columbia. It is also known from the southern Yukon Territory, adjacent Northwest Territories, and southeastern Alaska (including at leat one site on Kruzof Island). Farrar (2005) notes that "because of the similarity of the species to western forms of B. ascendens and B. minganense the western occurrences have been questioned. However recent collections from Alaska, the Yukon and southeastern British Columbia have proved to be genetically identical to B. spathulatum from the Great Lakes, confirming the widespread occurrence of this taxon in northwestern North America." The "extent" of the range depends greatly on how it is mapped (i.e. how many disjunct clusters of occurrences are presumed to exist). Flora of North America (1993) divides the range into four disjunct clusters, while Farrar (2005) maps just two (eastern and western). Mapping per FNA yields an extent estimate of 660,000 km2, while mapping per Farrar estimates 2,400,000 km2. Farrar's map may be preferred as more occurrences are discovered.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, CO, MI, MN, MT, WI, WY
Canada AB, BC, MB, NT, ON, QC, YT

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
MN Crow Wing (27035), Marshall (27089)
WI Door (55029)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
04 Door-Kewaunee (04030102)+
07 Elk-Nokasippi (07010104)+
09 Thief (09020304)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A perennial moonwort with a nearly stalkless, leathery sterile blade that is shiny yellow-green, triangular in outline and divided into as many as 8 pairs of ascending, widely spaced segments. Its fertile blade is once- or twice-divided, and its leaves appear in late spring through summer.
General Description: Spoon-leaf Moonwort produces a single erect frond, up to 18 cm high, that is divided into a sterile (trophophore) and a fertile (sporophore) section.. The shiny yellowish green trophophore has little to no stalk (stalk less than 1 mm long if present) and a narrowly triangular blade 4.5-9.0 cm long and 1.5-3.0 cm wide. The blade is pinnately divided into 2-8 pairs of spoon-shaped (widest at apex), widely spaced, entire to lobed leaflets (pinnae); the outer margins of lower ones are often cleft with wide sinuses. The basal pair of pinnae is commonly folder over the central axis. The sporophore is 1-2 times the length of the trophophore and 1-2 times pinnately divided into linear segments that bear the spores.
Technical Description: Trophophore stalk 0-1 mm long; blade shiny yellow-green, narrowly deltate, flat, 1-pinnate, to 9 x 3 cm, thick, leathery. Pinnae 2-8 pairs, somewhat ascending and oblique, mostly separate to remote, distance between first and second pinnae not or slightly more than between second and third pairs, the basal pinnae pair largest and often folded over the rachis although adjacent pair approaches it in size and has similar cutting, mostly narrowly spatulate to linear-spatulate and rounded or ± 2-cleft, widest at rounded-notched apex, lobed to unlobed to tip, the corners rounded to angular, margins mainly entire or occasionally irregularly and shallowly incised and cleft with wide sinuses, venation like ribs of fan, midrib absent. Pinna stalks narrowly adnate 1/4 to 1/3 of the pinna width. Sporophores 1-2 times pinnate, 1.2-2 times length of trophophore. 2n =180 (Wagner and Wagner 1990, Flora of North America 1993).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Botrychium spathulatum is similar to B. minganense and B. lunaria; all three species are small and the veins of the pinnae radiate out in a fan-like pattern and lack a clear midrib. It can be differentiated from B. minganense by its sessile or nearly sessile trophophore, its basal pinnae usually longer than the upper pinnae, its spoon-shaped, entire or irregularly cleft pinnae (vs. more uniformly oval to fan-shaped pinnae), its later-appearing leaves, and its more extensively divided fertile branch, A detailed table of differences between these two species is provided by Wagner and Wagner (1990; Table 1). The sessile trophophore with basal pinnae largest and pinnae margins rounded and entire (or if dissected, irregularly so with segment margins rounded and entire) also serves to differentiate B. spathulatum from B. gallicomontanum and B. pallidum. B. spathulatum can be distinguished from B. lunaria by its widely separated (vs. closely adjacent), less broadly fan-shaped pinnae. In western North America, B. spathulatum also co-occurs with the similar B. ascendens and B. crenulatum. It can be differentiated from these species by its spoon-shaped (vs. oval to fan-shaped) pinnae. It can be further differentiated from B. ascendens, which it resembles most closely due to the similar sessile (sometimes short-stalked) trophophore with basal pinnae largest, by its entire to dentate to shallowly lobed (vs. regularly coarsely toothed) outer pinna margins and, if the pinnae divided into segments, they are irregularly cleft into non-spreading lobes (vs. symmetrically cleft into two or four spreading lobes with toothed outer margins). Sporophore branches loose and angling away from rachis (vs. dense and lying closely along the rachis) and basal sporophore branches often branched and twisted so that sporangia project outward or downward (vs. basal sporophore branches seldom branched or twisted so that sporangia project upward) further distinguish B. spathulatum from B. ascendens. Farrar (2005) provides a table summarizing key differences between these two species.
Palustrine Habitat(s): HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Conifer, Forest Edge, Forest/Woodland, Grassland/herbaceous, Old field, Sand/dune, Woodland - Conifer
Habitat Comments: Tends to occur in open to partially open habitats, mostly in montane and lakeshore areas. Habtiats are often associated with moderate disturbance and/or have sparse or grassy vegetation Some sources describe soil preferences as "sandy" or "alkaline" (Great Lakes region only). Several sites occur on sand dunes or grassy meadows along lake and maritime shores (including those of the upper Great Lakes, lower James Bay, and the Gulf of Alaska). Dunes tend to be dry to mesic and stabilized, and are usually sparsely vegetated, though sometimes wooded. Other occupied habitats include grassy fields, grassy river banks, meadows and shrub-grassland complexes, grassy flats at mid elevations (often within open forest communities), and sparsely vegetated subalpine slopes. More disturbed sites where found include grassy sidings and ditches along railroad tracks (plants sometimes growing in cinders), sandy roadsides (both open and wooded), trailsides, old fields, and tailings ponds of iron-ore mines. One Alberta site was found adjacent to a heavily-used trail in a recently (approx. 40 years) deglaciated landscape. Frequently grows with numerous other moonwort (Botrychium) species, such as B. campestre, B. minganense, and B. lunaria. 0 - 2000 m.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: As B. spathulatum occurs in a variety of habitats, a number of management techniques may be necessary; however, no information is currently available on the response of B. spathulatum to any kind of management. Since B. spathulatum often exists in a habitat that is early successional due to disturbance (such as fields, tailings piles, and roadsides), it may be prone to local extinction as succession occurs. Maintaining viable populations may rely on a shifting mosaic of suitable habitats opening up for colonization. Observations suggest that it may not be possible to rely upon anthropogenic disturbances to create sufficient suitable habitat for all rare moonworts. To ensure the existence of some rare species, processes that create natural disturbances will need to be maintained or mimicked (e.g. by prescribed burning) (Williston 2002). Finally, maintaining the health of associated mycorrhizae seems necessary for population persistence; as moisture relations are critical, activities that dry the habitat may have deleterious effects (Chadde and Kudray 2001).
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 11Aug2000
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: ACHUFF, P. (1991), rev. L. Morse (2000), rev. K. Gravuer (2008)
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 26Jun1995
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): KAJ

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Chadde, S. and G. Kudray. 2001. Conservation assessment for Spoon-leaf Moonwort (Botrychium spathulatum). USDA Forest Service, Eastern Region. 35 pp.

  • Cody, W.J. 1996. The flora of the Yukon Territory. National Research Council of Canada Research Press, Ottawa, Canada. 643 pp.

  • Douglas, G.W., D. Meidinger, and J. Penny. 2002. Rare Native Vascular Plants of British Columbia, 2nd ed. B.C. Conserv. Data Centre, Terrestrial Inf. Branch, Victoria. 358pp.

  • Douglas, G.W., D. Meidinger, and J. Pojar, editors. 2000. The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia. Volume 5. Dicotyledons (Salicaceae through Zygophyllaceae) and Pteridophytes. British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks and British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Victoria.

  • Douglas, G.W., D. Meidinger, and J. Pojar, eds. 2000. Illustrated Flora of British Columbia, Vol. 5, Dicotyledons (Salicaceae through Zygophyllaceae) and Pteridophytes. B.C. Minist. Environ., Lands and Parks, and B.C. Minist. For., Victoria. 389pp.

  • Douglas, G.W., D. Meidinger, and J.L. Penny. 2002. Rare native vascular plants of British Columbia. Second edition. March 2002. The Province of British Columbia, Victoria.

  • Farrar, D. R. 2005g, January last update. Botrychium spathulatum species description, map, and photo page. In Farrar, D.R. 2006, June last update. Systematics of moonworts Botrychium subgenus Botrychium. Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology, Iowa State University, Ames. Online. Available: http://www.public.iastate.edu/~herbarium/botrychium.html (Accessed 2008)

  • Farrar, D. R. and S. J. Popovich. 2012. Ophioglossaceae. Pages 24-35 Colorado Flora: Eastern Slope, fourth edition. W.A. Weber and R.C. Wittmann. University Press of Colorado, Boulder, CO.

  • Fleurbec / G. Lamoureux, S. Lamoureux, A. Tousignant, L. Cournoyer et R.F. Gauthier / 1994. Plantes susceptibles d'être désignées menacées ou vulnérables. Noms français de 229 espèces. Rapport non publié, préparé pour le gouvernement du Québec, ministère

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 1993a. Flora of North America north of Mexico. Vol. 2. Pteridophytes and gymnosperms. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xvi + 475 pp.

  • Johnson-Groh, C. 1999. Population ecology of Botrychium (moonworts), status report on Minnesota Botrychium permanent plot monitoring. Dept. of Biology, Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kershaw, L., J. Gould, D. Johnson, and J. Lancaster. 2001. Rare vascular plants of Alberta. Univ. of Alberta Press, Edmonton, Alberta and Nat. Resour. Can., Can. For. Serv., North. For. Cent., Edmonton, Alberta. 484pp.

  • Mantas, M. and R. S. Wirt. 1995. Moonworts of western Montana (BOTRYCHIUM subgenus BOTRYCHIUM). Flathead National Forest. 103 pp.

  • Mantas, M. and R. S. Wirt. 1995. Moonworts of western Montana (BOTRYCHIUM subgenus BOTRYCHIUM). Flathead National Forest. 103 pp.

  • Montana Natural Heritage Program. Montana Plant Field Guide. Online. Available: http://mtnhp.org/plants/plantguide.asp (Accessed 2006).

  • Wagner, Jr., W.H., and F.S. Wagner. 1990. Notes on the fan-leaflet group of moonworts in North America with descriptions of two new members. American Fern Journal 80(3):73-81.

  • Wagner, W.H. et F.S. Wagner 1990a. Notes on the fan-leaflet group of moonworts in North America with descriptions of two new members. American Fern Journal 80 : 73-81.

  • Wagner, W.H. et F.S. Wagner 1990c. Botrychium field work in eastern Canada. Lettre du 24 juillet 1990.

  • Williston, P. 2005. Vascular plant species at risk in Mt. Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks. Rep. prepared for Parks Can. by Gentian Botanical Research, Smithers, BC. 40 pp + app.

  • Williston, P. 2006. Vascular Plant Species at Risk in Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks: Alpine Habitats. Rep. prepared for Parks Can. by Gentian Botanical Research, Smithers, BC. 23pp.+app.

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