Pteris - Pteridaceae

Pteris dentata Forssk.

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Pteris arguta Aiton
Pteris flabellata Thunb.
Pteris dentata Forssk. var. flabellata (Thunb.) Runemark
Pteris ascensionensis Sw.
Pteris serrulata Forssk.

Common name


Rhizome erect to procumbent, up to 10 mm in diameter; rhizome scales linear-lanceolate in outline, dark brown to blackish chestnut, shiny, up to 5 mm long. Fronds tufted, arching, herbaceous, up to 2.1 m high. Stipe up to 1.2 m long, strawcoloured, darker and with few scattered scales towards the base, glabrous. Lamina up to 1 × 0.8 m, deltoid to ovate in outline, usually 2- to 3-pinnatifid but variable, basal pinnae basiscopically developed. Pinnae narrowly oblong in outline, 5-24 x 1.5-7.5 cm; ultimate lobes linear to oblong-triangular, apices toothed, base unequally united to the costa, margins toothed except for the fertile lobes which have entire margins along the sori; veins free, no veins anastomosing below the sinus; glabrous on both surfaces, spines present at the vein junctions on the uppersurface only. Rhachis strawcoloured, glabrous, smooth. Sori linear, continuous, marginal; indusia entire, membranous.


Can be distinguished from Pteris buchananii which has a widely creeping rhizome and anastomosing veins below the sinus; Pteris catoptera and Pteris friesii have ultimate lobes with entire apex margins.


dentata: toothed, referring to the serrate margins of the ultimate lobes of the lamina.


Grassland, upland bamboo forest, montane rain forest, often by stream sides, also old rubber plantations, bare slopes of landslips and on trunks of oil palms.

Distribution worldwide

Africa and Arabia, Fernando Po, Ascension I., St. Helena, Cape Verde Is., Mascarene Is. and Madagascar

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Dem. Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea (incl. Bioko), Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco and Western Sahara, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan and South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania , Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form



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  • Verdcourt, B. (2002) Pteridaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 22 - 23. (Includes a picture).