Hymenophyllum - Hymenophyllaceae

Hymenophyllum capillare Desv.

Photo: JE. Burrows

Photo: JE. Burrows

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: JE. Burrows

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Sphaerocionium capillare (Desv.) Copel. var. alternialatum Pic. Serm.
Hymenophyllum capillare (Desv.) Copel var. alternialatum (Pic.Serm.) Faden
Hymenophyllum holotrichum Peter

Common name


Rhizome slender, wiry, widely creeping, hairless or with long-armed stellate hairs. Fronds 1-5 cm apart, hanging. Stipe 1-6 cm long, wiry, not winged but sparsely clothed with fine stellate hairs. Lamina oblong-linear in outline, 6-70 × 2-3(-4) cm, 2- or 3-pinnatifid, membranous. Pinnae up to 30 on each side of the rhachis, to 2 x 1 cm, pinnatifid into up to 7 linear lobes, apices rounded, margins entire, both surfaces set with stellate hairs with long radiating arms. Rhachis not winged, hairy. Sori at the apices of the lobes in the distal area of each pinna, obconic with rounded indusial valves, 1-1.6 mm in diameter, set with stellate hairs; receptacle included.


Sometimes two varieties or forms are recognized: "capillare" and "alternialatum", the latter having the pinnules slightly decurrent on the rhachis.


capillare: "capillus": hair, the fronds are hairy.


Deeply shaded evergreen mist forest, tree heath.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, Madagascar and the Comoro and Mascarene islands.

Distribution in Africa

Burundi, Cameroon, Dem. Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea (incl. Bioko), Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania , Uganda, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Epiphytic, lithophytic.


  • Beentje, H.J. (2008) Hymenophyllaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 3 - 5. (Includes a picture).
  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Page 99. (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 168 - 169. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Page 195. (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 44.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 44. As Sphaerocionium capillare
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Pages 80 - 81. (Includes a picture).
  • Tardieu-Blot, M.-L. (1964) Ptéridophytes vol.3.Flore du Cameroun, Page 75. (Includes a picture).