Vittaria - Adiantaceae

Vittaria ensiformis Sw.

Photo: NR. Crouch
South Africa

Photo: NR. Crouch
South Africa

Photo: . ©Botanic Garden Meise (BR)






Vittaria tenera sensu Peter, non Fée
Vittaria plantaginea Bory
Oetosis ensiformis (Sw.) Greene
Vittaria elongata Sw. var. ensiformis (Sw.) C.Chr.
Haplopteris ensiformis (Sw.) E.H.Crane

Common name


Rhizome shortly creeping; rhizome scales shiny brown, 4-10 mm long, narrowly ovate-lanceolate in outline, apex with hair-like tip, margins entire to sparsely ciliate. Fronds simple, arching out from tree trunk, seldom pendulous; stipe absent with the lamina extending to the rhizome. Lamina linear, 35-40 × 0.45-0.8 cm, base green or pale brown when dry; midrib hardly visible, not raised. Sori submarginal in two continuous lines just inside the lamina margin.


The broad lamina combined with green frond base, ciliate rhizome scales and outward arching fronds separates Vittaria ensiformis from other species.


ensiformis: shaped like a two-edged sword, tapering to a point.


Epiphyte on the boles of large trees along rivers in evergreen forest.

Distribution worldwide

Java, Madagascar, Mauritius, Malaya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe.

Distribution in Africa

Tanzania , Zimbabwe.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Page 111. (Includes a picture).
  • 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 73.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Pages 83 - 84.
  • Verdcourt, B. (1999) Vittariaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Page 2.