Cheilanthes - Sinopteridaceae

Cheilanthes buchananii (Baker) Domin

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Notholaena buchananii Baker
Notholaena bipinnata (Sim) Sim
Cheilanthes inaequalis (Kunze) Mett. var. buchananii (Baker) Schelpe

Common name


Rhizome shortly creeping to suberect, c. 5 mm in diameter; rhizome scales linear-lanceolate in outline, margin entire, up to 12 mm, rust-coloured. Fronds monomorphic, tufted, erect, 7-32 cm long, herbaceous to coriaceous, shriveling up during the dry winter months. Stipe 2.5-20 cm long, purple-dark brown to black, with short, fine white hairs and with scales similar to those of the rhizome at the base. Lamina 2-pinnate to 3-pinnatifid on the basal pinnae which are not reduced in size, broadly ovate, pentagonal to almost deltate in outline, up to 12 × 6 cm; pinnae 11-14 pairs, lanceolate in outline, upper surface pilose, lower surface sparsely covered with long, soft white hairs, turning rustcoloured with age, margins subentire; rhachis dark brown. Sori marginal, discrete at first but continuous when mature; indusium continuous or discontinuous, ciliate, membranous.


Could be confused with C. eckloniana which has shiny golden-brown scales along the costae and costules, and basal pinnae that might be slightly reduced. The lower surface of the lamina of C. inaequalis is densely covered with short hairs.


buchananii: named after Rev. J. Buchanan (1821-1903), missionary and fern collector.


Moist sheltered and shaded sites in rocky areas, woodland margin, more commonly found on quartzite.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

Dem. Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania , Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Lithophytic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 128 - 129. As Cheilanthes inaequalis var. buchananii. (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 340 - 341. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 257 - 259. As Cheilanthes inaequalis var. buchananii. (Includes a picture).
  • Kornas, J. (1979) Distribution and ecology of the Pteridophytes in Zambia. Polska Akademia Nauk Wydzial II Nauk Biologicznych. Page 50.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Pages 63 - 64.
  • 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 182.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Pages 126 - 127. As Cheilanthes inaequalis var. buchananii. (Includes a picture).
  • Verdcourt, B. (2002) Adiantaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 38 - 40. As Cheilanthes inaequalis var. buchananii. (Includes a picture).