Moonworts are among the more primitive ferns.Â They’re sometimes called grape ferns because of the grapelike clusters of spore-producing bodies seen in this photo. This particular species is Botrychium pinnatum, Northwest Moonwort. It was growing along the Perry Creek trail off the Mountain Loop Highway east of Granite Falls in Snohomish County in July a couple of years ago.
Perry Creek is a Research Natural Area, set aside on Forest Service land to protect both plants and wildlife.Â In this case, the protection is primarily for the great diversity of ferns found along the first couple of miles of trail. The little moonworts are only a few inches high and easy to miss while hiking. It really takes a trained eye to find them. I was fortunate on this trip to have an experienced moonwort hunter as guide leading a Native Plant Society field trip.
Access to Perry Creek is going to change in 2009 when the road to the trailhead is closed and a new one-mile connector trail is built from the Mount Dickerman trailhead. Whether this results in more or less use of the trail remains to be seen. The published reason for the change is the lack of parking along the end of the Perry Creek road and the difficulty turning around there.