CPC Plant Profile: Green Mountain Maidenhair
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Plant Profile

Green Mountain Maidenhair (Adiantum viridimontanum)

Full view of this leafy species of maidenhair fern. Photo Credit: William Cullina
Description
  • Global Rank: G3 - Vulnerable
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Pteridaceae
  • State: CAN, QC, VT
  • Nature Serve ID: 141112
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 05/01/1999

Adiantum viridimontanum is a slender fern that grows up to 75 cm (2.5 feet) tall. This species can be found in Vermont and Quebec in habitats that have exposed rock, some of which is mined for asbestos. These rocky areas (called serpentine habitat) typically support only sparse vegetation comprised of the few species (some rare) that can tolerate the very mineral-rich but shallow soil found here. Recent botanical inventories have turned up 7 populations in Vermont and 14 in Quebec. In Vermont, most populations appear stable and are restricted to relatively isolated sites, one of which is protected. However, this species faces a number of threats to its long-term survival, including mining of the rocky habitat where it occurs, road widening activities in areas where the plant occurs in road cuts, and the negative impacts of invasive species. Research and Management Summary: A handful of individuals/organizations are conducting research on this species. Conservation organizations on both sides of the border are beginning to take steps to protect these unique serpentine areas, which harbor many rare and specialized plant species. Plant Description: The leaves of this fern are slender, 30 - 75 cm (1 - 2.5 ft) long, with shiny, water-resistant surfaces and dark, glabrous petioles (Ruesink 2001). In high light, the leaves are held upright, while in shadier conditions, they spread horizontally, resembling horseshoes. The more triangular, fertile frond extends beyond the leaves and bears sori (reproductive structures) on dark brown, false indusia on its margins during late summer and fall.

Participating Institutions
Updates
  • 08/14/2020
  • Demographic Research

Dr. Geoffrey Hall, Botanist with the Quebec office of The Nature Conservancy - Canada, is leading an effort to document and evaluate populations of Adiantum viridimontanum in Quebec in order to prioritize protection and management efforts (Hall 1998). Only one serpentine site in Quebec is currently protected (Tremblay 1994). According to Ruesink (2001), the Quebec Ministry of the Environment and The Nature Conservancy Canada recently purchased a large serpentine area with a large maidenhair fern population, at Mont Caribou, which will be designated an ecological reserve.

  • 08/12/2020
  • Propagation Research

Spores have been collected from several Vermont populations for spore banking by the New England Plant Conservation Program (New England Wild Flower Society, Framingham, Massachusetts). Plants were successfully grown from some of these spores, but most plants died following transplantation. However, there is at least one nursery in New England that is successfully propagating the plant. Several plants and a small amount of seed (from one population) in cold storage are currently in the New England Wild Flower Society's rare plant collection.

  • 08/12/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Spores have been collected from several Vermont populations for spore banking by the New England Plant Conservation Program (New England Wild Flower Society, Framingham, Massachusetts). Plants were successfully grown from some of these spores, but most plants died following transplantation. However, there is at least one nursery in New England that is successfully propagating the plant. Several plants and a small amount of seed (from one population) in cold storage are currently in the New England Wild Flower Society's rare plant collection.

  • 08/12/2020
  • Seed Collection

Spores have been collected from several Vermont populations for spore banking by the New England Plant Conservation Program (New England Wild Flower Society, Framingham, Massachusetts). Plants were successfully grown from some of these spores, but most plants died following transplantation. However, there is at least one nursery in New England that is successfully propagating the plant. Several plants and a small amount of seed (from one population) in cold storage are currently in the New England Wild Flower Society's rare plant collection.

  • 08/12/2020
  • Genetic Research

Ongoing genetic studies by Dr. Catherine Paris (University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont) have established electrophoretic protocols for distinguishing Adiantum viridimontanum from its congeners that overlap with its distribution. Dr. Paris is also studying the distribution of the fern along environmental gradients, and how it interacts with other members of the Adiantum pedatum complex (see her web site, http://www.uvm.edu/~plantbio/faculty/paris.html, for more information).

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Adiantum viridimontanum is known only from serpentine areas of northern Vermont and southeasern Quebec. There are a total of 40 occurrences. Most of the Quebec sites are in active or inactive asbestos mines. 2 sites are Historic.

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

Mining -- While most mining of serpentine for asbestos has ceased in the United States, this activity continues in Quebec and can threaten ferns directly. The use of former quarries in Vermont is of some concern, as well; one was formerly proposed to b

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

21 occurrences of Adiantum viridimontanum are recorded from Vermont and Quebec. Vermont occurrences are estimated to contain a total of approximately 2000 plants.

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

Ongoing genetic studies by Dr. Catherine Paris (University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont) have established electrophoretic protocols for distinguishing Adiantum viridimontanum from its congeners that overlap with its distribution. Dr. Paris is also studying the distribution of the fern along environmental gradients, and how it interacts with other members of the Adiantum pedatum complex (see her web site, http://www.uvm.edu/~plantbio/faculty/paris.html, for more information). Dr. Geoffrey Hall, Botanist with the Quebec office of The Nature Conservancy - Canada, is leading an effort to document and evaluate populations of Adiantum viridimontanum in Quebec in order to prioritize protection and management efforts (Hall 1998). Spores have been collected from several Vermont populations for spore banking by the New England Plant Conservation Program (New England Wild Flower Society, Framingham, Massachusetts). Plants were successfully grown from some of these spores, but most plants died following transplantation. However, there is at least one nursery in New England that is successfully propagating the plant. Several plants and a small amount of seed (from one population) in cold storage are currently in the New England Wild Flower Society's rare plant collection.

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

One site in Lowell, Vermont is protected by The Nature Conservancy (Vermont Chapter), which has been actively working with landowners there since 1983. The Vermont Nongame and Natural Heritage Program, as well as volunteer task forces of the New England Plant Conservation program, have monitored several populations of the fern throughout Vermont for several years, but no assessment of population viability or trends has been performed to date. Only one serpentine site in Quebec is currently protected (Tremblay 1994). According to Ruesink (2001), the Quebec Ministry of the Environment and The Nature Conservancy Canada recently purchased a large serpentine area with a large maidenhair fern population, at Mont Caribou, which will be designated an ecological reserve.

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

Collaboration with transportation authorities and private mining interests to encourage activities compatible with conservation of this species and its required habitat International cooperation between Canadian and U. S. conservation organizations to protect the fern Regular monitoring for the presence of invasive species that can outcompete the fern Standardized techniques for quantifying population size Population viability analysis Genetic studies to determine homozygosity levels and effects of inbreeding on populations and to assess interactions among members of the Adiantum pedatum complex Studies of factors limiting sporophyte establishment, including light, moisture, soil chemistry, microclimate, and pathogens

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

Studies are needed of improved techniques for long-term spore banking and fern propagation

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Adiantum viridimontanum
Authority Paris
Family Pteridaceae
CPC Number 9328
ITIS 181793
USDA ADVI3
Common Names Green Mountain maidenhair fern
Associated Scientific Names Adiantum viridimontanum
Distribution Adiantum viridimontanum is endemic to Vermont (USA) and southern Quebec (Canada).
State Rank
State State Rank
Canada N2
Quebec S3
Vermont S2
Habitat

Adiantum viridimontanum has been described from a variety of habitats where serpentine rock (composed of dunnite or serpentinite) is exposed, including asbestos quarries, road cuts, talus slopes, and cliffs. These outcrops typically support only sparse vegetation comprised of the few species (some rare) that can tolerate the excessively mineral-rich chemistry of the shallow soil that weathers from cracks in the rock (Thomspon and Sorenson 2000). Like other plant species that occur in these habitats, Adiantum viridimontanum appears to thrive best in direct sunlight, where cover of other plant species is low. In this sense, the fern behaves like a typical disturbance colonizer and may even require disturbances to recruit and establish at new sites (Ruesink 2001). According to Ruesink (2001), grasses and herbaceous species associated with the fern in Vermont include: harebell (Campanula rotundifolia), field chickweed (Cerastium arvense), hairgrass (Deschampsia flexuosa), rock sandwort (Arenaria stricta), and poverty grass (Danthonia spicata). Common juniper (Juniperus communis var. depressa) dominates the shrub layer, while red spruce (Picea rubra) and gray birch (Betula populifolia) make up a canopy of usually stunted trees.

Ecological Relationships

Adiantum viridimontanum reproduces most commonly via vegetative propagation (Ruesink 2001). Because populations are widely isolated from each other, gene flow is likely to be small, and genetic diversity of populations may be low. Spore dispersal is thought to be quite local, within a few meters of the parent plant (Ruesink 2001). Herbivory has not been observed on the fern. This is most likely attributed to the fact that fern leaves often contain high levels of secondary compounds, including tannins and phenolics, which (Ruesink 2001).

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID

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