Pteris - Pteridaceae

Pteris vittata L.

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: BT. Wursten

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Pteris diversifolia Sw.
Pteris costata Bory ex Willd.
Pteris longifolia sensu Sim

Common name


Rhizome prostrate to suberect, short, up to 8 mm in diameter; rhizome scales linear to lanceolate with a long hair-tip, pale brown, up to 7 mm long, entire. Fronds tufted or closely spaced, arching, herbaceous to slightly coriaceous, 0.75-1.8 m tall. Stipe up to 20 cm long but varying in length, pale brown, glabrous with age and with scales similar to the rhizome near the base. Lamina up to 1.15 × 0.4 m, oblong-lanceolate in outline, pinnate, middle pinnae the longest and basal pinnae gradually reducing in size. Pinnae in 20-40 pairs, 2-22 x 0.7-1.4 cm, opposite to alternate, shortly stalked, linear to narrowly lanceolate in outline, apex gradually tapering to a point, base cordate or rounded, margins minutely toothed; veins free; glabrous on both surfaces; costae prominent below. Rhachis glabrous or slightly scaly, pale brown. Sori linear, continuous, submarginal; indusia entire, membranous.


P. vittata is pinnate, unlike the other species of Pteris.


vitta: narrow headband worn during sacrificial rites; alluding to the narrow linear pinnae.


Rock crevices, coral rag, river banks, wet evergreen forest, walls and roadsides, permanantly wet places in arid regions.

Distribution worldwide

Widespread in Africa, also Arabia, Cape Verde Isl., Canary Isl., Comoro & Mascarene Isl., Madagascar, Socotra, tropical Asia, China, Japan, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Australia and Polynesia, also Spain, Yemen.

Distribution in Africa

Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Dem. Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Morocco and Western Sahara, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan and South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania , Tunesia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Lithophytic, terrestrial.


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