Blechnaceae - Hard ferns

Photo: P. Ballings
South Africa


Description of the family

Terrestrial, epiphytic or lithophytic ferns. Rhizome widely creeping and often stoloniferous or suberect to erect, with scales. Stipe not articulated. Fronds pinnate or pinnatifid (rarely 2-pinnatifid), dimorphic, fertile strongly contracted. Young fronds often tinged with red. Veins free, simple or forked or anastomosing without included veinlets, always ending near the margin. Indumentum composed of bracts and unicellular hairs occurring on the rhizome, the axes and the lamina surfaces. Sori short and discontinuous or long and continuous, usually borne on a secondary vein parallel to the costa, between the costa and the margin. Indusium linear, continuous or discontinuous, mostly entire, opening towards the costa, or exindusiate.

Worldwide: 9 genera and c.200 species worldwide, cosmopolitan.



  • Blechnum L.
  • Doodia R.Br.
  • Stenochlaena J. Sm.
  • Woodwardia Sm.


  • 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.