Almost anywhere you visit in the park will have various fern species to observe since they occupy a wide variety of habitats. On the rock ledges and crevices of outcrops, woolly lip fern (Cheilanthes tomentosa), the locally rare lobed spleenwort (Asplenium pinnatifidum), and the common polypody (Polypodium virginianum) are likely to be found. But on the steep, rocky, and partially shaded slopes of Short Hill, Maryland Heights, and LoudounHeights, marginal shield fern (Dryopteris mariginalis) and Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) are more common. The floodplains and moist, shaded, low slopes surrounding the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers support even more fern species, including intermediate shield fern (Dryopteris intermedia), New York fern (Thelypteris noveboracensis), and fragile fern (Cystopteris protrusa).
Did You Know?
Virginius Island was a thriving 19th-century industrial town along the Shenandoah River. By 1859, there were about three dozen buildings there.