Pteris - Pteridaceae

Pteris dentata Forssk.

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Pteris arguta Aiton
Pteris flabellata Thunb.
Pteris dentata Forssk. var. flabellata (Thunb.) Runemark
Pteris ascensionensis Sw.

Common name


Rhizome erect to procumbent, up to 10 mm in diameter; rhizome scales linear-lanceolate, dark brown, shiny, up to 5 mm long. Fronds tufted, arching, herbaceous, up to 1.2 m high. Stipe up to 50 cm long, strawcoloured, darker and with few scattered scales towards the base, glabrous. Lamina up to 1 × 0.8 m, deltoid to ovate in outline, usually 2- to 3-pinnatifid but variable, basal pinnae basiscopically developed; ultimate lobes linear, apices toothed, base unequally united to the costa, margins toothed except for the fertile lobes which have entire margins along the sori; veins free, no veins anastomosing below the sinus; glabrous on both surfaces, spines present at the vein junctions on the uppersurface only. Rhachis strawcoloured, glabrous, smooth. Sori linear, continuous, marginal; indusia entire, membranous.


Can be distinguished from Pteris buchananii which has a widely creeping rhizome and anastomosing veins below the sinus; Pteris catoptera and Pteris friesii have ultimate lobes with entire apex margins.


dentata: toothed, referring to the serrate margins of the ultimate lobes of the lamina.


Shade on forest floor.

Distribution worldwide

Africa and Arabia, Fernando Po, Ascension I., St. Helena, Cape Verde Is., Mascarene Is. and Madagascar

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Dem. Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea (incl. Bioko), Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco and Western Sahara, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, 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 160 - 161. (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 320 - 321. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 239 - 240. (Includes a picture).
  • Kornas, J. (1979) Distribution and ecology of the Pteridophytes in Zambia. Polska Akademia Nauk Wydzial II Nauk Biologicznych. Page 69.
  • 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 171 - 172.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 79. (Includes a picture).
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta. Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Pages 117 - 118.