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Green Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes-ramosum)

Life history

Species overview

Green Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes-ramosum), a State Endangered plant, is found on shaded calcareous cliffs. The optimal identification period for this species is early May through late September.

Synonyms: Asplenium trichomanes-ramosum


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Distinguished from A. trichomanes by its rachis, which is reddish brown only at the base and greenish above (vs. reddish brown throughout) and its pinnae, which are more widely spaced toward the base of the blade.
  • Flower characteristics:
  • Fruit characteristics: Sori single, .5 to 1 mm long, elongate, and following the straight or slightly curved veins on the abaxial surface of the laminae; indusia thin, whitish, entire, often deciduous.
  • Leaf characteristics: Rachis 4 cm long, reddish brown at base, greenish above. Numerous, linear-oblong, bluntly lobed, pinnate fronds are 5 to 15 cm long and 1.5 cm wide; 9 to 16 pairs of pinnae opposite at base, but alternate toward the middle of frond and above.


  • Blooming phenology:
  • Fruiting phenology: mid summer
  • Optimum time to identify: early May through late September


  • Growth form: Fern
  • Vegetative reproduction: Rhizomatous
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Acer saccharum, Thuja occidentalis, Tilia americana, Picea glauca, Abies balsamea; Polystichum braunii and other ferns.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Green Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes-ramosum). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Asplenium trichomanes-ramosum in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusEND
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG4
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found on shaded calcareous cliffs.
  • Soils: Calcareous soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Green Spleenwort. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Northern Mesic Forest 2
Moist Cliff 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Green Spleenwort. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Green Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes-ramosum) has very few known occurrences in the state and is of the highest priority for conservation; we encourage you to consult with your District Ecologist or NHI Botanist for specific recommendations for your site.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid direct disturbance to sensitive microsites such as seeps, cliffs, and moss-covered boulders.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Follow BMPs, especially around streams and use care near ravines, steep slopes, cliffs, rock outcrops, etc.
  • Maintain high forest canopy cover; this species requires shaded habitat conditions.
  • Buffer management around unique microhabitats such as ephemeral ponds, seeps, etc.


Green Spleenwort  Photo.

Asplenium viridis, wet dolomite cliff, Washington Island.

Photo by Eric Epstein, Wisconsin DNR.

Green Spleenwort  Photo.

Asplenium Viride (Asplenium trichomanes-ramosum).

Photo by Thomas Meyer, Wisconsin DNR.

Green Spleenwort  Photo.

Asplenium Viride (Aplenium trichomanes-ramosum).

Photo by Thomas Meyer, Wisconsin DNR.

Green Spleenwort  Photo.

Photo by Thomas Meyer, Wisconsin DNR.

Green Spleenwort  Photo.

Photo © William S. Alverson.

Green Spleenwort  Photo.

Photo © W.C. Taylor.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Thursday, September 24, 2015
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition