Cheilanthes - Sinopteridaceae

Cheilanthes hirta Sw. [aggregate]

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Adiantum hirtum (Sw.) Poir.
Notholaena hirta (Sw.) J. Sm.
Cheilanthes hirta Sw. var. brevipilosa W. Jacobsen & N. Jaconsen
Myriopteris intermedia (Kunze) Fée
Cheilanthes glandulosa Pappe & Rawson

Common name

Lip fern


Rhizome short creeping or erect, up to 5 mm in diameter; rhizome scales awl-shaped, brown with dark central stripe and pale margins, margin entire, 3.5-9 mm long. Fronds monomorphic, tufted, erect, rigid, herbaceous to fairly coriaceous. Stipe 4-11 cm long, reddish to dark brown, up to 25 cm long, with reddish brown hairlike scales standing out stiffly from the stipe and with brown scales at the stipe base. Lamina 2-pinnate to 4-pinnatifid, lanceolate to linear-elliptic in outline, 8-60 cm × 2-15 cm; pinnae 15-26 pairs, oblong-lanceolate in outline, 0.8-10 x 0.6-2 cm; pinnules 7-15 pairs, triangular to oblong-ovate in outline, apex rounded, cut into rounded or slightly lobed segments, up to 8 x 4 mm, set with scattered, long, often gland-tipped hairs on both surfaces; veins free, indistinct; rhachis and secondary rhachises brown to reddish, set with reddish brown, sometimes gland-tipped, hairs. Sori small, discrete, on margins of slightly inrolled lobes; indusium minute (or absent), pale, membranous, entire to erose, ciliate.


A lot of varieties have been described in the C. hirta complex. These are difficult to distinguish without a microscope. We therefore keep our information as broad as possible and refer to the cited literature for keys to the varieties.


hirta: hairy.


Rock crevices and at boulders, exposed or partially shaded, in woodland, rocky hills in wet grassland.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania , Uganda, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Lithophytic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 135 - 138. (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 354 - 361. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 261 - 262.
  • Roux, J.P. (2009) Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands. Strelitzia 23, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Pages 181 - 182.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Pages 62 - 63. (Includes a picture).
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Pages 124 - 125.
  • Verdcourt, B. (2002) Adiantaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 35 - 36.