Pteris - Pteridaceae

Pteris catoptera Kunze

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: BT. Wursten






Pteris catoptera Retz. var. horridula Schelpe

Common name


Rhizome erect or procumbent, up to 10 mm in diameter; rhizome scales dark brown, linear, 3-4 mm long, margins ciliate. Fronds tufted, arching. Stipe strawcoloured, up to 90 cm long, shiny, glabrous except for few brown scales near base and sometimes with scattered spines. Lamina oblong to ovate in outline, up to 90 × 60 cm, 2-pinnatifid in upper part, 3-pinnatifid lower down with basal pair of pinnae strongly basiscopically developed into 1-3 subpinnae, glabrous. Ultimate lobes thinly textured, linear to oblong, apex rounded, margins entire to subentire; veins free. Rhachis strawcoloured, glabrous, smooth or spiny, ventrally grooved; costae and costules on upper surface with fine spines. Sori in marginal line for most of the length of the fertile lobes; indusium narrow, membranous.


Pteris dentata and Pteris buchananii have crenate-serrate lobe apices; Pteris friesii does not have spines on the costules above and on the veins below.


kato: below, pteros: winged; the basal pair of pinnae is basiscopically developed: an allusion to its wing-like appearance.


Terrestrial in evergreen forest.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, Madagascar, Comoro Isl.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Dem. Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea (incl. Bioko), Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan and South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania , Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 163 - 164. (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 324 - 325. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 240 - 242. (Includes a picture).
  • Kornas, J. (1979) Distribution and ecology of the Pteridophytes in Zambia. Polska Akademia Nauk Wydzial II Nauk Biologicznych. Page 68.
  • 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 170 - 171.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 78. (Includes a picture).
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta. Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Page 118. (Includes a picture).