Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club/Volume 30/An Index to the described Species of Botrychium

Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club
Volume 30 (1903)
An Index to the described Species of Botrychium
An Index to the described Species of Botrychium
By Lucien Marcus Underwood

During seven years of special but more or less interrupted study of the genus Botrychium added to a field experience with various members of the genus extending over a quarter of a century, we have been able to see the most important collections of the world and have received a great quantity of material from numerous correspondents.   Besides practically all the herbaria of this country, the foreign collections at Kew, London, Berlin, and Paris have been studied with care.  As a result of this study not only have our former convictions regarding the status of the various members of the ramosum and ternatum groups been confirmed, but additional species in both these groups, together with two new representatives of the Virginianum group can now be properly segregated.

With the most recent publication of an African species, some members of the genus are now found on every continent and in every zone in which a land-area exists.   The first index to the species was published by Milde,[1] who early gave an elaborate account of the variations of the species known to him.  Great authority has hitherto been attributed to his opinions, which he published a generation ago, but it must ever be remembered that he based his conclusions, except among the central European species which he knew in the field, on exceedingly meagre data.  This is especially true of American material, particularly among the smaller species of the genus.  The same condition remains true to this day regarding the greater part of the collections of continental Europe.  When we examined the collection at Berlin in 1898 it contained only a single American specimen of Botrychmm lanceolatum and that from Greenland, and not a single specimen of B. neglectum.  Milde's collection was scarcely better, to judge it by his own citations, and the futility of relying on opinions based on such meagre data becomes clearly apparent when we know the real facts in the case.  We mention this because we have had in this country in certain quarters too much of the now obsolete notion that the Europeans have told us better concerning the status of our own species.  Milde recognized only ten species in 1870.  Prantl[2] enumerated the species known to him in 1884, and although he was familiar with the principal German collections only, he still recognized fifteen species.  Against these more rational estimates, the English botanists even in their latest pronouncement[3] can find only six species!  The present list enumerates thirty-four species whose status is quite definitely known, and four others concerning which there are no materials for verification that have been accessible up to the present time.  Besides the above there is material at Kew and Berlin representing certainly one and possibly two additional species of the ternatum group from South America, and perhaps a third from Central America.  This material can best await further study before publication.  There is also evidence of a species of the simplex group in California that awaits further study afield.


List of the known Species of Botrychium

Species accepted as valid are in Small Capitals, except those herein described as new, which are in the usual bold-faced type.   Species regarded as synonyms of other species are in italics with their proper equivalents.  Species of uncertain standing owing to inaccessibility of types or other causes are also in italics, but with no equivalents indicated.

Botrychium anthemoides Presl    ? B. Virginianum.
Milde comments on this species in his paper on the Silesian ferns and gives a figure of Presl's specimen, but unfortunately gives two numbers alike on the plate, so as to leave one in doubt concerning just which is the one intended for Presl's plant.  There is, however, little doubt but that the species was based on an aborted specimen of the European form of our familiar species.

Botrychium australe  R. Br.,  Prodr. Fl. Nov. Holl. 164.  1810.
— Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand.

Botrychium BaeckeanumBrockm.
Archiv. Ver. Freund. Naturg. Mecklenburg, 170.  1863.
— Description not seen; said by Milde to belong to B. matricariae.


Botrychium biforme  Colenso,  Trans. New Zeal. Inst. 18 : 223.  1886.
— New Zealand.

Botrychium biternatum (Lam.) Underw.  Bot. Gazette, 22 : 407. pl. 21.  1896.
Osmnnda bitemata  Lam.  Encyc. Meth.Bot. 4 : 650. 1797.
Botrypus lunarioides  Rich.; Michx.  Fl. Bor. Am. 2 : 274.  1803.
Botrychium lunarioides  Sw.  Syn. Fil. 172. 1806.
Botrychium fumarioides  Willd.  Sp. Pl. 5 : 63.  1810.
Botrychium fumariae  Spreng.  Syst. Veg. 4 : 23.  1827.
— South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana.

Botrychium boreale  Milde,  Bot. Zeitung, 15 : 880.  1857.
— Scandinavia, Northern Asia, Alaska.

Botrychium brachystachys  Kunze  B. Virginianum Mexicanum.

Botrychium brevifolium  Ångstr.  Bot. Notiser, 40.  1866.
— Plant not known.  Description even not yet seen and the plant was unknown to Milde.

Botrychium Breynii  Fries  B. matricariae.

Botrychium chamaeconium  Bitter & Hieron.;E. & P. Nat. Pflanzenf. 14 : 471. 1900.
— Africa (Kamerun).

Botrychium cicutarium  Sw.  Syn. Fil. 171.  1806. — Santo Domingo.
This species was based on Plumier, pl. 159, from Santo Domingo.  Later writers have confused various species with it, as J. D. Hooker,[4] who applied the name to a New Zealand species of the ternatum group!  Moore made it a sub-species of B. Virginianum.  To this day, however, no specimens of Botrychium have been collected in Santo Domingo to our knowledge, and until that terra incognita is made known to us botanically it is best to leave the species in abeyance.

Botrychium coulteri  Underw.  Bull. Torrey Club, 25 : 537.  1898.
— Yellowstone National Park, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho.

Botrychium crassinervium  Rupr.;Milde,
Nov. Act. Acad. Caes. Leop. Carol. 26 : 763. pl. 55. f. 10, 11.  1858. — Siberia.

Botrychium cuneatum  Desv.  B. obliquum.

Botrychium daucifolium  Hook. & Grev. Ic. Fil. 2 : pl. 161. 1831.
Botrychium subcarnosum  Wall.  Cat. no. 49 (nomen nudum);
Hook. & Grev.  Bot. Misc. 3 : 222.  1833.
— India, Burma, Society Islands?, Samoa?.

Botrychium daucifolium β Japonicum Prantl  B. Japonicum.


Botrychium decompositum  Mart. & Gal.
Mem. Acad. Sci, Bruxelles, 15 :—(15). pl. 1.  1842. — Mexico.

Botrychium dichronum sp. nov.
A moderately tall plant, allied to B. Virginianum, with sessile sterile lamina and persistent leaf of the preceding year.   Roots fleshy: stem 15-20 cm. long, smooth: sterile lamina broadly triangular, 20 cm. wide, 15 cm. long, tripinnatifid with about five pairs of nearly opposite gradually diminishing pinnae, the lowermost with longer pinnules on the outer side and inclined forward at an angle; pinnules 8-10 on each side of a winged rachis, alternate, cut nearly to the midrib into 6-10 segments set at an angle of 45° with the rachis, the lower ones slightly narrowed at the base, and 3-5-toothed at the apex, all gradually simpler towards the apex of the lamina: panicle[5] triangular, spreading, 3 cm. or more long on a slender stalk 4 cm. or more long, 2-3-pinnate.
Jamaica: Morce's Gap, altitude 1500 m., 7 Feb. 1900.  W. N. Clute, 96.  (Type in herb. Underwood.)
This plant was distributed as B. Virginianum with which it had been previously confounded and which it resembles rather closely, but differs in its peculiar short panicle, in the cutting of the lamina, and especially in its persistent sterile leaf which remains fresh until the new one is fully developed, the plant thus having two growing leaves at the time of maturity to which allusion is made in the specific name.  This peculiar habit has been mentioned by both Jenman and Clute, who appear to be the only persons who have reported it from Jamaica.  Its seasonal appearance also is peculiar.

Botrychium dissectum  Spreng.  Anleit. 3 : 172.  1804.
Botrychium ternatum, var. dissectum  D. C. Eaton,  Ferns N. A. 1 : 150. pl. 20. f. 1.  1878.
— New England to Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.
While this species undoubtedly approaches in some of its forms to B. obliquum, we have yet to see a specimen that could not readily be distinguished in the herbarium even when shriveled by drying; in the field it often grows in the same localities as B. obliquum and there can always be distinguished at a glance.  When it grows in the open sun it often becomes contracted and compact in habit, but the typical form of the species is so unlike B. obliquum that it is more rational to consider it a distinct species.  (Cf. observations under B. ternatum.)


Botrychium erosumMilde,  Bot. Zeitung, 22: 102.  1864.
(Type from Auckland, New Zealand, Hay; in herb. k. k. Hofmuseum, Vienna).  Milde later referred this species to his all-embracing B. ternatum, but this reference signifies nothing in this day of more rational conceptions of geographic distribution; without having seen the type it seems best to leave the species in doubt though it may be one of the forms of the Australasian B. australe.

Botrychium fumariae  Spreng.  B. biternatum.

Botrychium fumarioides  Willd.  B. biternatum.

Botrychiitm gracile  Pursh  B. virginianum.

Botrychium Japonicum  (Prantl) Underw.  Bull. Torrey Club, 25 : 538.  1898.
Botrychium daucifolium β Japonicum  Prantl,  Jahrb. Bot. Gartens Berlin, 3 : 340.  1884.
— Japan.

Botrychium Jenmani  Underw.  Fern. Bull. 8: 59.  1900. — Jamaica.

Botrychium Kannenbergii  Klinsman  B. simplex.

Botrychium lanceolatum  (S. G. Gmel.) Ångstr.  Bot. Notiser, 68.  1854.
Osmunda lanceolata  S. G. Gmel.  Nov. Comm. Acad. Sci. Petrop. 12 : 516. pl. 11. f. 2.  1768.
Botrychium palmatum  Presl, Suppl. Tent. Pterid. 43.  1845.
— Scandinavia, Siberia, Alaska, to Washington, eastward to Greenland, Labrador and Newfoundland and southward to Colorado, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Botrychium lanuginosum  Wall.  Cat. 48 (nomen nudum);
Hook. & Grev.  Ic. Fil. 1 : pl. 79. (pl. jun.) 1831. — India.

Botrychium Lunaria  (L.) Sw.  Schrader's Jour. Bot. 1800² : 110.  1801.
Osmunda Lunaria  L.  Sp. Pl. 1064.  1753.
— Europe, Northern Asia, Newfoundland, Labrador. Minnesota, Colorado, Utah, and northward to Alaska and Greenland


Botrychium lunarioides  (Rich.) Sw.  B. biternatum.

Botrychium matricariae  (Schrank) Spreng.  Syst. Veg. 4 : 23.  1827.
Osmunda matricariae  Schrank,  Baier. Fl. 2 : 419.  1789.
Botrychium rutaceum  Sw.  Schrader's Jour. Bot. 1800² : 110.  1801.
Botrychium malricarioides  Willd.  Sp. Pl. 5 : 62.  1810.
Botrychium rutaefolium  A. Br.; Doll.  Rhein. Fl. 24.  1843.
Botrychium Breynii  Fries,  Summa Veg. Scand. 252.  1846.
? Botrychium Baeckeanum  Brockm. (fide Milde).
— Northern Europe, Labrador, Quebec, New Brunswick, Maine, New Hampshire?, Vermont, New York.

Botrychium matricariaefolium  A. Br.  B. ramosum.

Botrychium matricarioides  Willd.  B. matricariae.

Botrychium neglectum  Wood,  Class Book Botany, [ed. 3.] 816.  1860.
— Nova Scotia to Maryland, Ohio and northward; also in South Dakota, Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington?

Botrychium obliquum  Mühl.; Willd.  Sp. Pl. 5 : 62.  1810.
Botrychium cuneatum  Desv.  Ann. Soc. Linn. Paris, 6 : 195.  1827.
Botrychium ternatum var. obliquum  D. C. Eaton,  Ferns N. A. 1 : 149. pl. 20. f. 2.  1878.
— New Brunswick to Georgia, Indiana and Minnesota.

Botrychium obliquum intermedium  Underw.  Our Native Ferns, ed. 6, 72.  1900.
Botrychium ternatum, var. australe, sub-var. intermedium  D. C. Eaton,
Ferns N. A. 1 : 149. pl. 20a (front figure only).  1879.
— New England, New York and northward.  The relations of this perplexing form and its distribution are still unsettled questions.

Botrychium occidentale  Underw.  Bull. Torrey Club, 25 : 538.  1898.
— British Columbia, Washington.


Botrychium Onondagense  sp. nov.
A slender species somewhat intermediate between B. Lunaria and B. tenebrosum with distant wedge-shaped segments.  Roots slender from a very short axis: common stalk slender, rather weak and spreading, 8-12 cm. long: lamina short-stalked (about 1 cm.), 2-4 cm. long, 1-1.5 cm. wide, composed of 7-9 broadly cuneate segments which are spaced their own width or more, with one or more notches in the outer margin, or occasionally quite deeply incised: sporophyll 1.5-2.5 cm. long, mostly bipinnate, with a slender stalk 2.5-4 cm-long.

Rocky ground in shade.   The following specimens have been examined:
Geddes Farm, Syracuse, 1879, J. S. Gifford, C D [6];
— Syracuse, 1873, E. W. Mundy, G;
— Jamesville Road, 1878, Mary Olivia Rust, U C D K E;
— near Split Rock, Syracuse, Underwood (type), U.
All the stations are within five miles from Syracuse in Onondaga county, New York, where the writer first commenced the study of ferns in 1875, and to the memory of which as one of the most prolific fern localities in the country this species is dedicated.  Similar plants have been collected in
— Michigan near Copper Harbor, Keweenaw Point, O. A. Farwell, U; and in
— Montana, Box Elder Creek, 23 July 1886, R. S. Williams, E.

This interesting species was originally discovered by the ladies of the Syracuse Botanical Club in June 1872; there appears to have been some difference of opinion as to whom the original discovery belongs as it was claimed by both Mrs. S. M. Rust and Miss Jane Hosmer.   Mr. Davenport was the first to determine the plant and naturally confused it with the more robust B. Lunaria and as early as 1877 published an account of it under that name.  That it may be a descendant of the stock from which B. Lunaria sprang, is possible, but it also has very striking relations with B. tenebrosum.  Having collected this rare species in one of its central New York stations and being familiar with the European B. Lunaria not only in the herbarium but from considerable field study, we have long regarded this a distinct species, and have waited in vain for additional information before publication.  We have carefully gone over the extensive suites of specimens of B. Lunaria in the large herbaria at Kew, Berlin, and Paris and find nothing to match this slender plant from central New York.  The more slender habit, and the distant cuneate segments will readily distinguish it from B. Lunaria.  The European species also occurs in British America and Alaska and in the high mountains of Colorado.  The smaller species of this genus present as close a series as the much larger ternatum group and should receive more thorough field study.  In this species the leaf is rarely quite short-stalked and in one or two specimens seen the number of segments is abnormally increased to fifteen.  On the whole, the plant is rather nearer B. tenebrosum, but differs in its broader cuneate segments which are entire or flabellately lobed.  In its habitat in rocky woods it is quite unlike B. Lunaria of Europe, which commonly grows in open meadows.


Botrychium palmatum  Presl  B. lanceolatum.

Botrychium pumicola  Coville; Underw.  Our Native Ferns, ed. 6. 69.  1900;
Bull. Torrey Club, 28 : 109. pl. 7. 1901. — Oregon.

Botrychium pusillum  sp. nov.
A low plant related to B. matricariae, branching below the surface of the ground and bearing small ternately compound leaves.  Stem 1 cm. long (rarely longer when growing deeply), buried, pale: leaves about 3 cm. wide by 2.5 cm. long, on a short petiole 1–1.5 cm. long, the lateral divisions tripinnatifid, the terminal scarcely exceeding the lateral, the ultimate segments closely placed, rounded, wider and sometimes lobed above, 2.5–3 mm. broad, with entire margins; texture fleshy; veins imperceptible: sporophylls 4–8 cm. long (including the stout stalk), the panicle tripinnate, 3–5 cm. long.

Mexico: Wet meadows, Sierra de las Cruccs, State of Mexico, 3000 m., 11 Sept. 1892, Pringle, 5192.   (Type in herb. Underwood.)

Differs from B. biternatum in its seasonal development, being autumnal instead of vernal, in its stalked leaves, and its more cornpact fleshy entire segments.   Related more nearly to B. matricariae in size, but differing in its stouter form, its entire segments, and its concealed veins.


  1. Verhandl. k. k. zool.-bot. Gesell. Wien. 18 : 507-516.  1865.
  2. Jahrb. Bot. Gartens Berlin, 3 : 297-350.  1884.
  3. Annals Bot. 5 : 500.  1891.
  4. Handb. New Zeal. Fl. 387.  1867.
  5. On the type specimen the sporophyll is not quite mature and the measurement may be a trifle too small for an average mature plant.
  6. [As noted in previous papers by Professor Underwood, published in the Bulletin, these letters refer to the herbaria in which the specimens noted have been seen : B Berlin; C Columbia (and the N. Y. Botanical Garden); D Davenport; E D. C. Eaton; G Gray; K Kew; and U Underwood.—Ed.]