Cheilanthes feei (Slender Lip Fern)
|Also known as:||Fee's Lipfern|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; crevices and cracks of limestone or sandstone cliffs and ledges|
|Plant height:||2 to 8 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Leaves and stems:
Leaves (fronds) are evergreen, 2 to 8 inches long, up to 1 inch wide, lance-linear to oblong in outline, twice compound with 7 to 9 pairs of opposite leaflets (pinnae), the lowest pair usually further divided. New fronds are light green, older fronds dark green,
Pinnae segments are mostly round, the edges rolled under thus appearing bead-like. The upper surface is variously covered in coarse, tan hairs and may become hairless. The lower surface is densely long-hairy, the hairs initially white, turning tan. Veins are obscure.
Stems are dark brown to blackish, the lower stem (stipe) with a few brown scales and scattered, long hairs, the upper stem (rachis) covered in long, white hairs but no scales and becoming more sparsely hairy with maturity. Plants form a tight, compact clump and spread from short, creeping rhizomes.
Found only in our southeast counties, Slender Lip Fern is easily distinguished by the bead-like segments on the pinnae and long, coarse hairs. The only other fern in Minnesota of a similar size and degree of hairiness is Rusty Woodsia (Woodsia ilvensis), which also inhabits rock faces but has numerous, long scales all along the stem and on the lower surface of the pinnae, and round sori. The related Hairy Lip Fern (Cheilanthes lanosa) is not known to be present in Minnesota but is just across the river in southwest Wisconsin, is a rather larger plant (to 16 inches) and lacks the bead-like segments that are obvious on Slender Lip Fern.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at Whitewater State Park, Winona County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?