Hymenophyllaceae - Filmy-fern family

Photo: P. Ballings


Description of the family

Mostly epiphytic (some terrestrial or epilithic) ferns. Rhizome widely creeping to short and suberect, slender, irregularly branched, also with short adhesive hairs. Fronds monomorphic, widely spaced or approximate, arranged in 1 row or tufted. Stipe with a single circular stele; obsolete or distinct, narrowly winged distally or along the entire length. Lamina simple or divided, exceptionally thin (1 cell thick) and delicate, ultimate segments one-veined; rhachis winged or not; venation free. Sporangia borne on slender receptacle within tubular cup-shaped or deeply 2-cleft indusium, homosporus, spores green.

Worldwide: 9 genera and ca. 600 species, tropical and temperate.



  • Abrodictyum C. Presl
  • Crepidomanes (C. Presl ) C. Presl
  • Didymoglossum Desv.
  • Hymenophyllum Sm.
  • Polyphlebium Copel.
  • Trichomanes L.
  • Vandenboschia Copel.


  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M.2011Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature.
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G.1983The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria.
  • Roux, J.P.2001Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13: 1-222.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E.1970Pteridophyta. Flora Zambesiaca, 0: 1-254.