Pteris - Pteridaceae

Pteris buchananii Baker ex Sim

Photo: BT. Wursten

Photo: BT. Wursten

Photo: BT. Wursten






Pteris subquadripinnata Chiov.

Common name


Rhizome widely creeping, c. 10mm in diameter; rhizome scales ovate, dark brown, entire, apex pointed, up to 4.5 x 1.5-3 mm. Fronds widely spaced, herbaceous, (0.8-)1.5-2 m long. Stipe up to 1 m high, glabrous, strawcoloured or darker brown at base . Lamina 0.5-1 m x 50-80 cm, broadly triangular in outline, 3-pinnate to 4-pinnatifid, basal pinnae almost as long as lamina and strongly basiscopically developed. secondary pinnae ovate-triangular in outline, 17-40 x 10-25 cm; pinnules in 5-10 pairs, oblong-lanceolate in outline, 3-15 x 1.2-5 cm, pinnatifid or sometimes bipinnatifid, often cut almost to the costa; ultimate lobes in 7-20 pairs, 0.6-2.5 x 0.2-0.8 cm, oblong-lanceolate, falcate, margins bluntly toothed; veins free, but united below the sinuses; glabrous on both surfaces but with a spine at junction of costae and costules above. Rhachis stramineous spinose. Sori in marginal lines, extending for half to three quarters of the length of fertile lobes; indusia entire, membranous.


Could be confused with Pteris dentata which has a short, erect rhizome and veins that are free.


buchananii: named after Rev. J. Buchanan (1821-1903); type specimen was collected by him in Natal (Kwazulu-Natal) in the 1870s.


Clearings in Evergreen forest, in areas of more light intensity, receiving high rainfall; swampy places; steep forest slopes with streams and swamps.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania , Uganda, Zimbabwe.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 162 - 163. (Includes a picture).
  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature. Pages 322 - 323. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 242 - 243. (Includes a picture).
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 80. (Includes a picture).
  • Roux, J.P. (2009) Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands. Strelitzia 23, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Page 170.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Page 120. (Includes a picture).
  • Verdcourt, B. (2002) Pteridaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 16 - 17.