US-Parks.com: America's National Parks and Road Trip Planning Find Your Park Road Trip Activities Nature

Denali National Park and Preserve Ferns

This is an evolutionarily ancient and very diverse group of plants that are often placed together in the taxonomic Division Pteridophyta , which is comprised of vascular plants that do not produce seeds, but instead reproduce and are dispersed through spores. Pteridophytes have free-living, independent gametophytes and produce motile sperm. The morphological and evolutionary diversity contained within this division of the plant kingdom is considerable.

In Denali the "lower plants" are represented by the following groups: true ferns ( Blechnaceae , Dryopteridaceae , Pteridaceae , Thelypteridaceae , and Polypodiaceae ) the horsetails ( Equisetaceae ), Club mosses, ( Lycopodiaceae ), Spike mosses ( Selaginellaceae ) and quillworts ( Isoetaceae ).

The most species-rich fern family in the Denali National Park flora is the Wood fern family ( Dryopteridaceae ; 13 species), followed by the Maidenhair fern family ( Pteridaceae ; 3 species). There is one species each from the three other fern families that occur here: Chain fern family ( Blechnaceae ), Polypody family ( Polypodiaceae ), and Maiden fern family ( Thelypteridaceae ).

Closely related to the true ferns are an ancient and peculiar-looking group of spore-bearing plants appropriately called the Moonworts, which are placed by taxonomists in the Adder-tongue plant family ( Ophioglossaceae ). There are seven species of moonworts known to occur in the flora of Denali National Park. Except for the most common member of this genus in the park, which is Botrychium lunaria, these species have very interrupted and spotty distribution patterns - they are found only rarely, even by the keenest observers. Moonworts are most commonly found in lush and moist, (but not wet) meadow habitats in subalpine slopes and river terraces in association with dense growths of grasses such as Festuca altaica , Poa spp and forbs, including wild geranium ( Geranium erianthum ), Monkshood ( Aconitum delphinofolium ) and Veronica ( Veronica wormskjoldii ).

Featured Outdoor Gear

$279
Whether we're on foot or ski, we rely on Patagonia's Nano Puff Hooded Insulated Jacket for midlayer warmth high in the...
Price subject to change | Available through Backcountry.com

National Park Spotlight
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park
Featured Wildlife
Maine Puffins
Maine Puffins


Maine ocean islands provide the only nesting sites for Atlantic puffins in the United States. Eastern Egg Rock in the midcoast region, Seal Island and Matinicus Rock at the mouth of Penobscot Bay, and Machias Seal Island and Petit Manan Island off the downeast coast provide habitat for more than 4,000 puffins each summer.