Botrychium virginianum

Botrychium virginianum (L.) Sw.
(of Virginia, Linnaeus giving many plants from the eastern U.S. this epithet, for this species in the type description he cited Gronovius’ Flora Virginica, published in two volumes, in 1739 and 1742)

Local names: rattlesnake fern, virginia grape fern, common grape fern

Plant erect, 8–75 cm tall; roots 15 or fewer, yellow to brown; leaves seasonal, appearing in early spring and dying in summer; sterile blade portion pale green, sessile, thin, herbaceous, 4–30 cm long and wide, 3–5-pinnate-pinnatifid; ultimate leaf segments linear, with midvein present, serrate to lacerate, pointed at apex; 2n = 184 (Wagner & Wagner 1993). Moist, rich woods and thickets; Pineywoods w to Cross Timbers and Prairies (e.g., Montague and Tarrant cos., BRIT; Coryell Co., TEX-LL); also e Edwards Plateau (e.g., Gillespie Co., O’Kennon 11288, Bear Mt., BRIT; Kerr Co., Palmer 1919b); throughout most of Canada and the U.S.; also Mexico to South America, Europe, and Asia (Mickel & Smith 2004). Spores maturing Apr–Jun. [Botrypus virginianus (L.) Holub] If Botrychium is divided into segregate genera, as argued by Hauk et al. (2003), B. virginianum would be recognized in the genus Botrypus. The common name is probably derived from a resemblance of the clusters of sporangia to the rattles of a rattlesnake. Alternatively, it has “been reported that a salve made by boiling the roots of the plant was used by the Cherokee Indians in the treatment of snake bites” (Nelson 2000).

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