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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Spoon-leaf Moonwort - Botrychium spathulatum

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Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G3
State Rank: S1
(see State Rank Reason below)
CCVI: Less Vulnerable

Agency Status


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State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
One of the rarest moonwort species in Montana, currently reported from 2 sites in northwest Montana. Population levels at these sites are undocumented.
General Description
Spoon-leaf Moonwort produces a single erect frond, up to 12 cm high, that is divided into a trophophore and a sporophore. The trophophore has a stalk, less than 1 mm long, and a narrowly triangular blade that is pinnately divided into 2-8 pairs of spoon-shaped, widely spaced, entire to lobed pinnae. The sporophore is 1-2 times the length of the trophophore and 1-2 times pinnately divided into linear segments that bear the spores.

Leaves appearing in late spring-early summer.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Botrychium subgenus Botrychium is a large group of very similar species in our area, many of which are newly described. A technical manual should be consulted for positive identification. This species is similar to B. minganense, B. ascendens, and B. crenulatum, but the latter three have oval to fan-shaped pinnae. Botrychium lunaria is also similar but has pinnae that are closely adjacent.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
In MT in Glacier and Lake counties; in western North America from AK tand NT south through BC and AB to northwestern MT, in eastern North America WI and MI east through ON, QC and NB (Donald Farrar, Iowa State University, unpublished ms.).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 3

(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)

Meadows and open forests, often in areas of moderate disturbance or sparsely vegetated soil in the valley and montane zones.

  • 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.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • 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 F. S. Wagner. 1993. Ophioglossaceae. In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 3+ vols. New York and Oxford. Vol. 2, pp. 85-106.
    • Wagner, W. H., Jr. 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 80:73-81.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Spoon-leaf Moonwort"
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Citation for data on this website:
Spoon-leaf Moonwort — Botrychium spathulatum.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from