Pyrrosia - Polypodiaceae

Pyrrosia schimperiana (Mett. ex Kuhn) Alston

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Polypodium schimperianum Mett. ex Kuhn
Cyclophorus schimperianus (Mett. ex Kuhn) C.Chr.
Niphobolus schimperianus (Mett. ex Kuhn) Giesenh.
Pyrrosia schimperiana (Mett. ex Kuhn) Alston var. mechowii (Brause & Hieron) Schelpe
Pyrrosia mechowii (Brause & Hieron) Alston
Cyclophorus mechowii Brause & Hieron.

Common name


Rhizome shortly creeping, 1.5-3 mm in diameter; rhizome scales dull, brown to pale grey with dark central area, margins entire, ovate to lanceolate in outline, apex acuminate, 2.8-8 x 0.9-1.9 mm. Fronds simple, spaced apart (c. 1 cm), coriaceous, fleshy. Stipe up to 4(-7.5) cm long, covered with white stellate hairs, becoming glabrous with age. Lamina up to (6-)11-40 x 0.6-2.5 cm, linear to oblanceolate in outline, apex pointed to tapering, base tapering almost to the rhizome, margin entire, lamina covered on both surfaces with greyish-white stellate hairs, each 0.3-0.9 mm in diameter with short appressed arms, upper surface becoming (sub)glabrous with age. Sori round, very dark brown, ± 1 mm, confined to the upper half of the frond, usually visible through the hairs.


Can be confused with Pyrrosia rhodesiana which has fronds that are densely covered with more brown hairs with long, thin arms.


schimperiana: named after W.P. Schimper (1804-1878), German plant collector and professor of botany.


Seasonally dry, deciduous woodland areas, in riverine forests and kloof forest.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan and South Sudan, Tanzania , Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Epiphytic, lithophytic.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 190 - 191. (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 544 - 545. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 304 - 305. (Includes a picture).
  • Kornas, J. (1979) Distribution and ecology of the Pteridophytes in Zambia. Polska Akademia Nauk Wydzial II Nauk Biologicznych. Page 76.
  • 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 165.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 98.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Page 147. (Includes a picture).
  • Tardieu-Blot, M.-L. (1964) Ptéridophytes vol.3.Flore du Cameroun, Page 341. (Includes a picture).
  • Thardieu-Blot, M.L. (1964) Ptéridophytes vol.8.Flore du Gabon, Page 202. As Pyrrosia mechowii (Includes a picture).
  • Verdcourt, B. (2001) Polypodiaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 6 - 8. As Pyrrosia schimperiana (Kuhn) Alston (Includes a picture).