Christella - Thelypteridaceae

Christella dentata (Forssk.) Brownsey & Jermy

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Thelypteris dentata (Forssk.) E. P. St. John var. dentata
Polypodium dentatum Forssk.
Dryopteris dentata (Forssk.) C.Chr.
Cyclosorus dentatus (Forssk.) Ching
Nephrodium molle (Sw.) R.Br.
Aspidium molle Sw.

Common name


Rhizome shortly creeping, c. 7-10 mm in diameter; rhizome scales ovate to lanceolate in outline, margin entire, c. 5-8 mm long, dark brown, thinly pilose. Fronds monomorphic, closely spaced, arching, not proliferous, thinly herbaceous. Stipe 8-50 cm long, pale to greyish brown, minutely pubescent to subglabrous, with scales at the base. Lamina deeply 2-pinnatifid, narrowly elliptic to lanceolate in outline, apex tapering to a point with a deeply pinnatifid terminal segment, basal pinnae 1 or 2 pairs reduced, up to 1.6 × 0.54 m; pinnae narrowly lanceolate in outline, apex lobed and long tapering to a point, 4.5-21 x 1.5-2.5 cm; ultimate lobes oblong, slightly falcate, apex rounded, basal acroscopic lobe enlarged and sometimes overlapping the rhachis, 4-10 x 2.5-4.5 mm, sparsely hairy on both surfaces, more so along the costa and costules; rhachis thinly set with long hairs; veins 1 pair meeting below the sinus and sometimes a single vein joining in the sinus. Sori round, up to 20 per lobe; indusia small, hairy, up to 1 mm wide.


Christella dentata resembles C. hispidula but the latter has one pair of veins meeting below the sinus (no additional single vein joining in the sinus) and an erect or inclining rhizome. C. buchananii has 2 or 3 pairs of gradually reducing pinnae, 2 or 3 pairs of veins meeting below the sinus.
Christella dentata look for: 1 pair of veins meeting below the sinus and a single vein joining in the sinus, 1 or 2 pairs gradually reducing basal pinnae, shortly creeping rhizome.


dentata: toothed; referring to the lobed pinnae


Shady streambanks or low-altitude rivers in riverine forest, ditch-sides in swampy areas, valley bushland and thickets.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, Yemen, Seychelles and Comoro Is., Madagascar, southern Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and introduced into tropical America.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Benin, Burkina Fasso, Burundi, Cameroon, Dem. Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea (incl. Bioko), Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan and South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania , Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 263 - 264. As Thelypteris dentata var. dentata (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 684 - 685. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 388 - 389. (Includes a picture).
  • Kornas, J. (1979) Distribution and ecology of the Pteridophytes in Zambia. Polska Akademia Nauk Wydzial II Nauk Biologicznych. Pages 89 - 90. As Thelypteris dentata
  • 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 202.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 120.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Pages 197 - 198. As Thelypteris dentata var. dentata (Includes a picture).
  • Tardieu-Blot, M.-L. (1964) Ptéridophytes vol.3.Flore du Cameroun, Page 248. (Includes a picture).
  • Thardieu-Blot, M.L. (1964) Ptéridophytes vol.8.Flore du Gabon, Pages 150 - 151. (Includes a picture).
  • Verdcourt, B (2006) Thelypteridaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 13 - 14.