Todea - Osmundaceae

Todea barbara (L.) T. Moore

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Todea africana Willd. nom. illegit.
Osmunda totta Sw.
Acrostichum barbarum L.

Common name


Rhizome erect to suberect, up to 90 cm tall, with persistent winged stipe bases, which are surrounded by thick brown roots, forming a caudexlike mass of up to 90 cm in diameter. Fronds tufted, stiff. Stipe up to 60 cm long, pale brown, subglabrous. Lamina up to 2 m, bipinnate and lanceolate in outline. Pinae knifeshaped or narrowly lanceolate in outline, 15-30 x 2.5-5 cm. Pinnules glabrous, linear-oblong in outline, slightly falcate, apex acute, margin crenate to bluntly serrate towards the apex, adnate to the costa, 2.5-4 x 0.5-0.8 cm. Sporangia cover the basal third of the undersurface of the lower pinnae.


The distinctive sporangia on the undersurface of the pinnules nearest to the rhachis make this fern very recognizable.


barbara: strange, foreign, as Linneaeus must have looked upon this fern when he first described it.


Along montane streams and margins of evergreen forest, open fynbos.

Distribution worldwide

Southern Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Distribution in Africa

Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Lithophytic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 50 - 51. (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 144 - 145. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 170 - 171. (Includes a picture).
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Pages 36 - 37. (Includes a picture).
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Page 46. (Includes a picture).