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Mingan's Moonwort (Botrychium minganense)

Life history

Species overview

Mingan's Moonwort (Botrychium minganense), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in cool, mixed conifer-hardwood forests and mesic hardwood forests. The optimal identification period for this species is early June through late July.

Synonyms: Botrychium lunaria f. minganense, Botrychium lunaria ssp. minganense, Botrychium lunaria var. minganense


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Distinguished from the very similar B. spathulatum by fewer-branched fertile fronds (once-pinnate rather than twice-pinnate) and leaves that appear earlier in the spring.
  • Flower characteristics:
  • Fruit characteristics: Spore producing organ (sporophore) emerges from the base of the leaf and is 1.5 to 2.5 times the length of the fronds; sporangia (round spore-bearing sacs) borne on once-pinnate spreading branches.
  • Leaf characteristics: One pinnately divided, oblong to laceolate, dull green frond up to 10 x 2.5 cm, containing up to 10 more or less opposite pairs of pinnae lobes, with each lobe narrowly fan-shaped; pinnae lobes held either flat in the same plane or with only the lowest pair somewhat folded or angled toward one another.


  • Blooming phenology:
  • Fruiting phenology: late July
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is early June through late July


  • Growth form: Fern
  • Vegetative reproduction: Rhizomatous
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Abies balsamea, Picea glauca, Betula papyrifera, Thuja occidentalis.

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 Mingan's Moonwort (Botrychium minganense). 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 Botrychium minganense in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS2
Global RankG5
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 in cool, mixed conifer-hardwood forests and mesic hardwood forests.
  • Soils: Sandy or gravelly soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Mingan's Moonwort. 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).

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Mingan's Moonwort. 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.

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 site preparation that heavily disturbs herbaceous ground layer and soil; these include bulldozing and furrowing, as well as grubbing and stump removal.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.

Management guidance

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

  • Maintain thick duff layer if possible; minimize spread of invasive species including earthworms.
  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.
  • Maintain high forest canopy cover; this species requires shaded habitat conditions.


Mingan's Moonwort Photo.

Photo © Gary Walton, Wisconsin State Herbarium

Mingan's Moonwort Photo.

Photo © Tom Ditzman, Wisconsin State Herbarium

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: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
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