Dicranopteris - Gleicheniaceae

Dicranopteris linearis (Burm. f.) Underw.

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: BT. Wursten

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Polypodium lineare Burm.f.
Gleichenia linearis (Burm.f.) C.B.Clarke
Mertensia linearis (Burm.f.) Fritsch
Polypodium dichotomum Thunb.
Gleichenia dichotoma (Thunb.) Hook.

Common name


Rhizome widely creeping, brown, 1-5 mm in diameter, glabrous at maturity. Fronds spaced apart, bifurcate to reniform-lunate in outline. Stipe up to 1 m long, golden brown, glabrous. Lamina 2-3 times dichotomously divided with a pair of reduced pinnae present at each fork of the divisions; pinnae narrowly lanceolate, deeply pinnatifid, up to 12 x 4 cm. Pinnule lobes 15-30 (-50) × 5 mm, linear-oblong, glabrous on both surfaces, borne only on the ultimate branches, the other axes naked. Sori subcircular, c. 1 mm in diameter, arranged in two rows along the midrib of the pinnule lobes; exindusiate.


Differs from Sticherus umbraculiferus by having pinnules only on the distal lamina axes; differs from Gleichenia polypodioides by having superficial sori that are not sunken into the lamina and pinnules that are linear.


linearis: linear, referring to the long pinnules.


Along moist streambanks, forest margins and roadsides, in light shade or exposed.

Distribution worldwide

Widespread in tropical Africa, Madagascar, Comoro Isl., Seychelles, Mauritius, Réunion and Asia to Australasia and Polynesia.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Dem. Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea (incl. Bioko), Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Swaziland, Tanzania , Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Lithophytic, terrestrial.


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  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature. Pages 172 - 173. (Includes a picture).
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  • Verdcourt, B. (2000) Gleicheniaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 6 - 8. (Includes a picture).