Smooth Cliff Fern

Woodsia glabella R. Br. ex Richards.

Woodsia glabella
Kyle J. Webster

Filicopsida (Ferns)
State Protection
Listed as Endangered by New York State: in imminent danger of extirpation in New York. For animals, taking, importation, transportation, or possession is prohibited, except under license or permit. For plants, removal or damage without the consent of the landowner is prohibited.
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
Critically Imperiled in New York - Especially vulnerable to disappearing from New York due to extreme rarity or other factors; typically 5 or fewer populations or locations in New York, very few individuals, very restricted range, very few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or very steep declines.
Global Conservation Status Rank
Secure globally - Common in the world; widespread and abundant (but may be rare in some parts of its range).


State Ranking Justification

There are 3 verified occurrences, 4 historical occurrences.

Short-term Trends

40 plants.

Conservation and Management





All of the sites for Woodsia glabella in New York are on high elevation dry cliffs of at least partly calcareous rock (New York Natural Heritage Program 2010). Calcareous rocks (Gleason and Cronquist 1991). In thin moss or humus on clacareous rocks, often at crests of shaded cliffs (Fernald 1970).

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Calcareous cliff community (guide)
    A community that occurs on vertical exposures of resistant, calcareous bedrock (such as limestone or dolomite) or consolidated material; these cliffs often include ledges and small areas of talus.

Associated Species

  • Carex communis
  • Pellaea glabella
  • Thuja occidentalis (northern white cedar, arbor vitae)
  • Woodsia ilvensis (rusty woodsia, rusty cliff fern)


New York State Distribution

High Peaks and 2 outlying occurrences.

Identification Comments

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification

Individuals with sori are best for identification.

Best Time to See

These ferns first appear in June, with the spore-bearing sori maturing in July and persisting for the life of the fronds (into September).

  • Vegetative
  • Fruiting

The time of year you would expect to find Smooth Cliff Fern vegetative and fruiting in New York.

Smooth Cliff Fern Images


Smooth Cliff Fern
Woodsia glabella R. Br. ex Richards.

  • Kingdom Plantae
    • Phylum Filicinophyta
      • Class Filicopsida (Ferns)
        • Order Polypodiales
          • Family Woodsiaceae

Additional Common Names

  • Smooth Woodsia

Additional Resources


Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

Holmgren, Noel. 1998. The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.

Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2010. New York flora atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research University of South Florida]. New York Flora Association, Albany, New York


About This Guide

Information for this guide was last updated on: February 1, 2023

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. Online Conservation Guide for Woodsia glabella. Available from: Accessed June 23, 2024.