Adiantum - Adiantaceae

Adiantum patens Willd. ssp. oatesii (Bak.) Schelpe

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Adiantum oatesii Baker
Adiantum patens Willd. var. oatesii (Baker) F.Ballard
Adiantum pedatum Peter

Common name


Rhizome creeping, short; rhizome scales 2 mm long, brown, slightly ciliate, tapering from the base to a sharp tip. Fronds monomorphic, tufted, herbaceous, arching. Stipe 10-40 cm long, thin, brown to black, glabrous. Lamina triangular in outline, 25 × 30 cm, pedately divided into up to 11 linear, pinnate pinnae, each terminating in a single apical pinnule; pinnules numerous, stalkletss short wiry, brown, 1-3 mm long, rhombic to broadly obcuneate in outline, upper and outer margins irregularly lobed, midrib forms the lower margin, 15-25 -(30) × 0.7-10 mm, hairless. Sori on pinnule lobes on the upper and outer margin of the undersurface, indusial flap circular to kidney-shaped, up to 2 mm in diameter, hairless.


A. patens is pedately divided. It can be distinguished from A. hispidulum var. hispidulum which is sparsely set with hairs on the undersurface of the pinnae and has narrowly tapering pinnae segments.


patens: spreading, diverging from the axis at almost 90 degrees; referring to the fronds; oatesii:for Frank Oates (1840-1875), British naturalist and traveller who arrived in South Africa in 1873.


Slopes, rock-clefts, shady paths and banks, around boulder bases in forest and on streamsides in riverine forest.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

Burundi, Cameroon, Dem. Republic of Congo, Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan and South Sudan, Tanzania , Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 122 - 123. As A. oatesii (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 227 - 228. As A. patens subsp. oatesii (Includes a picture).
  • Kornas, J. (1979) Distribution and ecology of the Pteridophytes in Zambia. Polska Akademia Nauk Wydzial II Nauk Biologicznych. Page 64. As A. patens subsp.oatesii
  • 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 70.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 75.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Page 111. As A. patens subsp. oatesii
  • Tardieu-Blot, M.-L. (1964) Ptéridophytes vol.3.Flore du Cameroun, Page 147. (Includes a picture).
  • Verdcourt, B. (2002) Adiantaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 58 - 59.