Moonwort, a small fern found typically in old unimproved grasslands, has captured the imagination of many and inspired a rich folklore. Peter Marren explores why this small, seemingly insignificant plant was regarded as special by early botanists.
The first time I saw a Moonwort Botrychium lunaria it was high up in a gully on Ben Lawers. The second time was 3,500ft lower, in short turf by the seashore where the salmon-fishers dried their nets. Both were minuscule plants, barely an inch high. You need botanical knowledge to know it for what it is: not a seed plant but a tiny fern.