Lygodium - Lygodiaceae

Lygodium kerstenii Kuhn

Photo: BT. Wursten

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Lygodium brycei Baker
Lygodium subulatum Bojer ex Kuhn

Common name

Climbing fern


Rhizome creeping, up to 4 mm wide; rhizome scales linear, blackish-brown, c. 1.5 mm long. Fronds spaced apart, (1–)6–12(–20) m long, up to 48 cm wide. Stipe and rhachis of an elongated frond function as the climbing stem, from which short secondary rhachises at intervals of 7–20 cm, up to 1 cm long with an opposing pair of pinnae arrise, apical bud densely covered with short brown hairs 1.5 mm long. Sterile pinnae 2- to 3-pinnate or 4-pinnatifid on the basal pinnae, margins toothed to lobed; pinnules lanceolate-oblong to lanceolate in outline, up to 11 cm long, simple to 2-pinnatifid, narrowly winged, the ultimate segments acute, usually with prominent basal lobes, crenate, the crenations crenulate, finely hairy along secondary rhachises and the pinnule midribs, veins with scattered hairs on both surfaces. Fertile pinnae bipinnate to 4-pinnate, veins hairy on both surfaces; fertile pinnules lanceolate in outline, up to 9 cm long, simple to 2-pinnate, usually with a long apical segment and shorter basal segments, the margins crenate and with with numerous protruding linear fertile lobes, (2–)4–6(–12) mm long, 1.2 mm wide; sporangia 4-14 pairs, arranged in 2 rows along the margins (pinnule apex without fertile lobes).


Differs from L. microphyllum by having hairy veins and more divided pinnae.


kerstenii: named after Otto Kersten ( 1839-1900), a German plant collector.


Fringes of evergreen forest, along rivers in riverine forest or woodland, warm areas with high rainfall.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, Comores and Madagascar.

Distribution in Africa

Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Climbing, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 61 - 62. (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 182 - 183. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Page 181. (Includes a picture).
  • Kornas, J. (1979) Distribution and ecology of the Pteridophytes in Zambia. Polska Akademia Nauk Wydzial II Nauk Biologicznych. Page 41.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 50. (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 53.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Pages 57 - 59. (Includes a picture).
  • Verdcourt, B. (2000) Schizaeaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 11 - 13. (Includes a picture).