Schizaea - Schizaeaceae

Schizaea tenella Kaulf.

Photo: JE. Burrows
South Africa

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: JE. Burrows
South Africa






Microschizaea tenella (Kaulf.) C.F.Reed

Common name


Rhizome shortly creeping, horizontal; rhizome scales golden brown, up to 1.5 mm long. Fronds closely spaced. Stipe round, dark brown to black. Sterile fronds up to 30 cm long, narrowly linear, grass-like, twisted, simple, glabrous. Fertile fronds like sterile fronds but bearing a tightly folded, pinnate, fertile segment at the apex, up to 12 mm long, ascending. Pinnae 5-8 pairs, up to 3 mm long and 1 mm wide, decreasing towards the apex. Rhachis of the fertile portion straight, held at 45° to erect stipe. Sporangia closely packed in two rows on both sides of the costa.


Can be confused with Schizaea pectinata which has a curved, horizontally held rhachis, up to 18 pairs of pinna which are up to 12 mm long with the longest situated in the middle. It occurs away from water.


tenella: small, dainty


Terrestrial or lithophytic, along perennial montane streams, partially or deeply shaded.

Distribution worldwide

South Africa, occurence in Zimbabwe based on a single record.

Distribution in Africa

South Africa, Zimbabwe.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Page 56. (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 188 - 189. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 172 - 173. (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.