Parkeriaceae - Water sprites or leather ferns

Photo: BT. Wursten
Dem. Republic of Congo


Description of the family

Aquatic or semi-aquatic fern; rooted or free floating plants that complete their life cycle in a very short time. Rhizome short, erect or creeping; roots few arising from near the stipe base, with scales. Stipes green, succulent. Fronds numerous, tufted, dimorphic, sometimes proliferous, pinnate or 2- or 3-pinnatifid, herbaceous, glabrous, venation forming a network. Sporangia borne on the ultimate segments; solitary along the veins, within the reflexed margins or covering the lower surface of the fertile lamina with the margin not modified or reflexed; homosporous.

Comment: Sometimes included as a subfamily in the Pteridaceae

Worldwide: 2 genera, c. 7 species worldwide



  • Acrostichum L.
  • Ceratopteris Brongn.


  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M.2011Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature.
  • Roux, J.P.2001Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13: 1-222.