Polypodiaceae - Polypody family

Photo: P. Ballings


Description of the family

Very small to medium-sized ferns; epiphytic, lithophytic or rarely terrestrial. Rhizome short- or long-creeping or climbing, laterally branched; roots formed ventrally, dorsally with 2 rows of frond scars. Fronds mono-, hemi- or dimorphic, articulated or not; stipe short or long; lamina simple to 2-pinnatifid, entire or shallowly crenate; veins free or anastomosing. Indumentum composed of scales on the rhizome, axes and lamina and hairs on the lamina surfaces. Sori circular (in ours), superficial or slightly sunken, scattered or in a single row on either side of the primary or secondary vein, with or without paraphyses; exindusiate.

Worldwide: 56 genera and c. 1200 species worldwide. Near cosmopolitan distribution with the greatest diversity in tropical areas, especially in Asia.



  • Belvisia Mirb.
  • Ceradenia L.E. Bishop
  • Cochlidium Kaulf.
  • Ctenopteris Blume ex Kunze
  • Drynaria (Bory) J.Sm.
  • Enterosora Baker
  • Grammitis Sw.
  • Lellingeria A.R. Sm. & R.C. Moran
  • Lepisorus (J. Sm.) Ching
  • Loxogramme (Blume) C. Presl
  • Melpomene A.R. Sm. & R.C. Moran
  • Microgramma C.Presl
  • Microsorum Link
  • Phlebodium (R.Br.) J.Sm.
  • Platycerium Desv.
  • Pleopeltis Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd.
  • Polypodium L.
  • Pyrrosia Mirb.
  • Terpsichore A.R.Sm.
  • Zygophlebia L.E. Bishop


  • 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.