Schizaea - Schizaeaceae

Schizaea pectinata (L.) Sw.

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: JE. Burrows
South Africa

Photo: JE. Burrows
South Africa

Photo: P. Ballings






Acrostichum pectinatum L.

Common name


Rhizome shortly creeping, horizontal to suberect, up to 4 mm thick; rhizome scales brown, linear, twisted, up to 5 mm long. Fronds closely spaced to crowded, numerous. Stipe up to 7 cm long, dark brown for most of its length, filiform. Sterile frond simple, up to 30 cm long, very narrowly linear, green and inrolled at first, brown and recurved later. Fertile frond like sterile frond but with a pinnate, comb-like apical fertile portion, horizontal or descending. Pinnae up to 18 pairs, linear, 5-12 mm long and 1 mm wide, uniformly in length or with the longest in the middle, ciliate with pale hairs. Rhachis of the fertile portion held horizontally and curved. Sporangia packed in 2 rows on each side of the costa.


Could be confused with Schizaea tenella which has a straight rhachis, 5-8 pairs of pinna which are at the most 3 mm long and are becoming smaller towards the apex. It occurs close to water.


pectinata: comb bearing; a reference to the comb-like fertile segment of the frond.


In full sun or partial shade in montane grassland and in ericoid vegetation.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, Madagascar.

Distribution in Africa

Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania , Zimbabwe.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 56 - 58. (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 190 - 191. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 173 - 174. (Includes a picture).
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 49. (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 54.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Page 52. (Includes a picture).
  • Verdcourt, B. (2000) Schizaeaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 2 - 4. (Includes a picture).