Pteridaceae - Brakes


Description of the family

Terrestrial, epilithic or (rarely) epiphytic ferns with a short life cycle or perennial. Rhizomes short or long, suberect, decumbent or creeping, often laterally branched; roots few or many, often fleshy. Stipe not articulated, often dark-coloured. Fronds tufted or widely spaced, mono- or dimorphic. Lamina pinnately compound, pedate, dichotomously forked or helicoid, often with a proliferating bud at the rhachis apex, herbaceous or coriaceous, glabrous or variously set with indumentum; ultimate segments often articulated; venation free (in sterile fronds) or forming a network, without included veinlets, ending in or near the margin, often in hydathodes. Indumentum composed of unicellular glands on the abaxial surface of the lamina, or needle-like hairs occuring on the axes and lamina and/or scales on the rhizome and stipe. Sori variously arranged, exindusiate or covered by a strongly modified marginal indusium. Sporangia often mixed with paraphyses (sterile hairs).

Comment: recent taxonomy treats the pteridoid ferns as comprising either 5 monophyletic subfamilies or, as treated here, 5 families, i.e. Parkeriaceae, Adiantaceae, Cryptogrammaceae, Sinopteridaceae and Pteridaceae.

Worldwide: 17 genera and c. 400 species, cosmopolitan but mainly tropical



  • Actiniopteris Link
  • Anogramma Link
  • Onychium Kaulf.
  • Pityrogramma Link
  • Pteris L.


  • 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.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E.1970Pteridophyta. Flora Zambesiaca, 0: 1-254.