Asplenium - Aspleniaceae

Asplenium capense (Kunze) Bir, Fraser-Jenk. & Lovis






Ceterach capense Kunze
Ceterach cordatum (Thunb.) Desv. var. capense (Spreng. ex Kaulf.) Hieron ex Kümmerle

Common name


Rhizome erect or procumbent, c.4 mm in diameter, scales brown, lanceolate, margin paler sometimes toothed. Fronds not proliferous, tufted, erect to suberect. Stipe short, up to 60 mm long, chestnut to dark chestnut brown; scales shining, narrowly triangular, with rust-red central region and broad light margins, c. 5 mm long. Lamina 8-19 × 2-5 cm, pinnatisect to pinnate (sometimesshallowly 2-pinnatifid), elliptic to obovate in outline, herbaceous, inrolled when dry; basal pinnae gradually decrescent. Pinnae attached to the rhachis with the base prolonged down to the rhachis towards the lamina apex, becoming free from the rhachis with a somewhat flared auriculate-heartshaped base at the frond base, ovate-oblong, margins uneven or with rounded incisions, apex rounded at the tip, undersurface very sparsely covered with scales; scales like stipe scales, deltate to lanceolate, up to 1.5 mm long. Rhachis somewhat winged apically, not winged between widely spaced pinnae basally; scales like stipe scales, 4 mm long. Sori linear, 3-6 mm long becoming confluent at maturity, visible, exindusiate.


Untill recently this species was included within the broad concept for A. cordatum which in Zimbabwe was only found in Nyanga area.
Confusion possible with A. cordatum which has a more incised lamina, petiolate pinnae, a rhachis that is not winged and sori that are obscured by dense scale covering. A. capense can be distinguished from A. phillipsianum: A. capense has a rhachis that is only winged apically (throughout in A. phillipsianum), the pinnae are adnate apically & petiolate basally (adnate throughout in A. phillipsianum) and the sori are less long.


capense: pertaining to the Cape


Usually associated with riparian or open forest; it grows in sandy soil close to streams and under trees on steep damp earth banks.

Distribution worldwide

South Africa, extending sporadically to central and tropical East Africa.

Distribution in Africa

South Africa, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Lithophytic, terrestrial.


  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature. Pages 584 - 585. (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 81.