Lindsaea - Lindsaeaceae

Lindsaea ensifolia Sw.

Photo: JE. Burrows
South Africa

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Schizoloma ensifolia (Sw.) J. Sm.
Schizolegnia ensifolia (Sw.) Alston
Lindsaea membranaceae Kunze

Common name


Rhizome creeping, c. 1-3 mm in diameter; rhizome scales pale to dark reddish brown, lanceolate in outline, with a long drawn out point, up to 2.5 mm long, margins entire. Fronds spaced 1-3 cm apart, erect, herbaceous, glabrous. Stipe brown, shiny, up to 36 cm long, glabrous except for a few scales near the base, grooved. Lamina up to 48 × 22 cm, imparipinnate, roughly oblonceolate in outline; fresh smelling lightly of almonds when crushed. Pinnae 7.5-22 × 0.4-2.5 cm, narrowly oblong-lanceolate in outline, shortly petiolate, base unequally cuneate, apex shortly tapering to slightly rounded, margin entire to shallowly lobed, veins forming 1-2 rows of areoles along each side of the costa, venation anastomosing. Rhachis sharply bi-angular. Sori linear, continuous along the fertile pinnae; indusium linear, semitransparent, opening outwards, 0.3-0.5 mm wide.


Might superficially look a bit like Pteris cretica which has a shortly creeping rhizome with tufted fronds, pinnae with toothed margins, free veins and an indusium that opens inwards. Pteris cretica does not have a faint almond smell.


ensis: sword, folia: leaves; with swordlike leaves, referring to the long and tapering pinnae.


Low-altitude forest, usually in coastal swamp forest, on boggy ground or next to small streams in light shade.

Distribution worldwide

Afrika, Madagascar, Mauritius, Pemba, Réunion, Seychelles and widely throughout southern Asia and the East Indies.

Distribution in Africa

Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania , Zimbabwe.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 182 - 183. (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 278 - 279. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 294 - 295. (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 141.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 95. (Includes a picture).
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Page 139. (Includes a picture).
  • Thardieu-Blot, M.L. (1964) Ptéridophytes vol.8.Flore du Gabon, Page 81. Schizolegnia ensifolia (Sw.) Alston (Includes a picture).
  • Verdcourt, B. (1999) Dennstaedtiaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Page 32. (Includes a picture).