It is almost impossible to see this fern unless you get on your hands and knees and look for it in peat bogs, sphagnum hummocks and wet interdunal swales. That is because this fern is tiny. It grows only to a height of three to four inches. Additionally, it does not look like your typical fern. Its sterile fronds (fern leaves) are small curly and grass-like, thus its name – curly grass fern. Its fertile fronds (spore producing fern leaves) are unique and look like a small hairbrush on the end of a single stalk.
This is a very rare plant only found in a few places including Maine, Delaware, New Jersey and Canada. In New York, it is an endangered species. Although many botanists have combed habitats this fern grows in, it remains a secretive plant.