Vittaria Sm. - Shoelace fern

Photo: P. Ballings


Description of the genus

Epiphytes or lithophytes. Rhizomes creeping, bearing clathrate scales. Fronds monomorphic, stipe poorly defined. Lamina simple, narrowly linear to narrowly elliptic, glabrous or sparsely set with short hairs, often pendent. Sori without an indusium, in two marginal, submarginal or intramarginal grooves. Paraphyses present.


Derivation of name:  vitta: ribbon, referring to the narrowly linear, stringlike fronds.

Worldwide: c. 30 species, in tropical and warm regions.


Key to the species of Vittaria: PDF


We have 12 taxa in the database for Vittaria.

  • Vittaria elongata Sw.
  • Vittaria ensiformis Sw.
  • Vittaria guineensis Desv. var. orientalis Hieron.
  • Vittaria guineensis Desv. var. camerooniana Schelpe
  • Vittaria guineensis Desv. var. guineensis
  • Vittaria isoetifolia Bory
  • Vittaria owariensis Fée
  • Vittaria reekmansii Pic. Serm.
  • Vittaria schaeferi Hieron
  • Vittaria schliebenii Reimers
  • Vittaria volkensii Hieron.
  • Vittaria zosterifolia Willd.


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