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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Least Moonwort - Botrychium simplex

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S2
CCVI: Less Vulnerable
C-value: 6

Agency Status
USFS: Sensitive - Known in Forests (BD, BRT, KOOT)


External Links

General Description
Trophophore light green, lanceolate, to 5 cm long with up to 7 pairs of ascending, fan-shaped pinnae with wavy margins; the lowest often deeply divided and overlapping the ones above. Sporophore 1 to 2 times pinnate, 1 to 8 times length of trophophore (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Leaves appearing in midspring to early fall.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
In MT in some western counties (see General Distribution), but Donald Farrar (Iowa State University, unpublished ms) does not include the species for MT, its nearest occurrences in his view being eastern OR, the Black HIlls, and the southern Rockies of WY, CO and NM. Widespread farther east from MN and southern ON to Greenland, and south through Appalachian Mountains to TN and VA.

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 38

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Various mesic sites from low to moderate elevations, including roadsides and other disturbed habitats. Sites are generally open with montane meadows and grasslands being the most common habitats occupied by the species.
Predicted Suitable Habitat Model

This species has a Predicted Suitable Habitat Model available.

To learn how these Models were created see

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Farrar, Donald. 2011. Moonwort (Botrychium) Systematics. Ada Hayden Herbarium. Iowa State University.
    • Idaho Native Plant Society. 1993. Federal candidate (C1 and C2) and listed rare plants of Idaho. unpaginated.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2022. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Second Edition. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 779 p.
    • Mantas, M. and R.S. Wirt. 1995. Moonworts of western Montana (Botrychium subgenus Botrychium). Flathead National Forest. 103 pp.
    • Wagner, W.H., and E.S. Wagner. 1983. Genus communities as a systematic tool in the study of new world Botrychium (Ophioglossaceae). Taxon 32(1): 51-63.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Least Moonwort"
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Citation for data on this website:
Least Moonwort — Botrychium simplex.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from