Gleichenia - Gleicheniaceae

Gleichenia polypodioides (L.) Sm.

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: BT. Wursten

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Onoclea polypodioides L.
Gleichenia argentea Kaulf.
Gleichenia glauca Sw.
Mertensia coeruleoglauca Poir.
Calymella polypodioides (L.) Ching

Common name


Rhizome widely creeping, branched, 1-5 mm in diameter; rhizome scales dark brown, long-spined, up to 1 mm long. Fronds spaced 2-20 cm apart, 30-90 cm long. Stipe up to 60 cm long, stiff, wiry, glabrous, shiny. Lamina dichotomously divided, circular in outline. Pinnules pinnatifid with small, 2-3 × 1.5-2 mm, triangular ultimate lobes, glabrous, joined to the costules. Sori embedded in the lobes at the apical side near the costa, creating a raised impression of the sori on the upper surface of the lobe.


Differs from Stricherus umbraculiferus by having pinnules that are only present on the distal lamina axes; differs from Dicranopteris linearis by having sori that are sunken into the lamina. Futhermore the ultimate segments are small and rounded to triangular.


polypodioides: resembling a Polypodium, a fern genus that also has the sori sunk into the frond surface.


Full sun or light shade in crevices of cliffs, along stream- and earthbanks and on road embankments, disturbed areas, in cool regions of high rainfall or frequent mist.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, Amsterdam Isl., Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Burundi, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania , Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Lithophytic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Page 52. (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 174 - 175. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 182 - 183. (Includes a picture).
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 39. (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 50.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Page 48.
  • Verdcourt, B. (2000) Gleicheniaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Page 2.