Asplenium rhizophyllum
Walking fern
Image of Asplenium rhizophyllum

Photo by Bradford S. Slaughter 

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Key Characteristics

Small fern forming dense colonies by tip-rooting; fronds lanceolate with heart-shaped bases and very long tapering tips; occurring on large moss-covered dolomite boulders.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: T
  • State Rank: S2S3
  • Global Rank: G5

Occurrences

County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Alpena11952
Berrien11994
Chippewa62013
Delta11979
Dickinson32001
Houghton11970
Leelanau11982
Mackinac202010
Menominee11905
Distribution map for Asplenium rhizophyllum

Updated 7/21/2017. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.

Habitat

Found on large moss-covered boulders in northern hardwoods and occasionally conifers within the Niagara Escarpment region. Is it also known from alkaline bedrock outcrops in the western Upper Peninsula, from sinkholes in northeastern Lower Michigan, and very rarely on large, rotting, fallen trees in rich forests. The single southern Michigan occurrence is found on sandy conglomerate boulders within a floodplain forest. Topographically this species usually occurs at or above the 700 ft contour line.

Natural Community Types

Methodology

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

Polypody, maidenhair spleenwort, hart's tongue fern, green spleenwort, fragile fern, Braun's Christmas fern, northern holly fern, sugar maple, Eastern hemlock, beech, yellow birch, basswood, white pine, red oak, white cedar, white birch, ironwood, American elm, balsam fir, white baneberry, red baneberry, wild leek, wild sarsaparilla, jack-in-the-pulpit, blue cohosh, enchanter's nightshade, bunchberry, blue-bead lily, Canada mayflower, Solomon's seal, false spikenard, twisted stalk, bellwort, star flower, nodding trillium, common trillium, maiden hair fern, lady fern, rattlesnake fern, spinulose woodfern, stiff clubmoss, shining clubmoss, ground pine, striped maple, leatherwood, fly honeysuckle, and maple-leaf viburnum.

Management

Generally requires shade and moist, moss-covered limestone or dolomite boulders. Species is likely sensitive to drying and scorching from overexposure to sunlight. Maintain overstory and minimize development and fragmentation. When possible, leave large tracts of unharvested forests and allow natural processes (growth, senescence, wind throw, fire, disease, insect infestation, etc) to operate unhindered. If forest is being managed for timber, minimize fragmentation, leave long periods of recuperation between harvests (50-70 yrs.), preserve as much area as possible in a forested matrix, and maintain a range of canopy closure comparable to pre-harvest closure.

General Survey Guidelines

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgement of the investigator.

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at http://mnfi.anr.msu.edu/explorer [Accessed Aug 23, 2017]

More Information

See MNFI Species Abstract

References

Survey References

Technical References

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