Histiopteris - Dennstaedtiaceae

Histiopteris incisa (Thunb.) J.Sm.

Photo: JE. Burrows
South Africa

Photo: JE. Burrows
South Africa

Photo: C. Jongkind

Photo: C. Jongkind






Pteris incisa Thunb.
Litobrochia incisa (Thunb.) C.Presl
Phegopteris incisa (Thunb.) Keyserl.

Common name


Rhizome subterranean, creeping, c.6 mm diameter; rhizome scales midbrown, lanceolate in outline, apex tapering to a point, 1-3 mm long, sometimes interspersed with brown hairs. Fronds widely spaced, erect to arching, glabrous on both surfaces, herbaceous, glaucous-green. Stipe up to 60 cm long, glabrous, purplish to pale chestnut brown, but darker brown with scattered scales near the base. Lamina 2 × 1 m, ovate-lanceolate in outline, deeply 2 to 3-pinnatifid. Pinnules incised almost to the costules, margins entire, ultimate lobes roughly oblong with rounded apices. A pair of reduced pinnules is present at the junction of the rhachis and secondary rhachis. Rhachis reddish to pale brown, circular in cross section, glabrous. Sori up to 1 mm broad, linear or rarely lunulate, borne along the margins but absent at the apex and in the sinuses; pseudo-indusium membranous, entire.



incisa: incised, referring to the deeply incised pinnules.


In forest margins or clearings, along streams, seepage zones or roadsides, exposed or in light shade, Hypericum woodland, Podocarpus bamboo and giant heath Hagenia forest and woodland.

Distribution worldwide

Central and tropical Africa, pantropical and extending to the southern temperate and subantarctic islands.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Dem. Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea (incl. Bioko), Gabon, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania , Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form



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  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature. Pages 294 - 295. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 206 - 207. (Includes a picture).
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  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 92. (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 110.
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  • Tardieu-Blot, M.-L. (1964) Ptéridophytes vol.3.Flore du Cameroun, Page 98. (Includes a picture).
  • Thardieu-Blot, M.L. (1964) Ptéridophytes vol.8.Flore du Gabon, Pages 72 - 74. (Includes a picture).
  • Verdcourt, B. (1999) Dennstaedtiaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 22 - 24. (Includes a picture).