Belvisia - Polypodiaceae

Belvisia spicata (L.f.) Mirb. ex Copel.

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: BT. Wursten






Acrostichum spicatum L.f.
Hymenolepis spicata (L.f.) C.Presl
Hymenolepis spicata (L.f.) C.Presl var. occultivenia C.Chr.
Hymenolepis spicata (L.f.) C.Presl var. usambarensis C.Chr.
Gymnopteris spicata (L.f.) C.Presl

Common name


Rhizome shortly creeping rhizome, c. 4 mm in diameter; rhizome scales dark-brown, lanceolate, entire, acute-acuminate, clathrate, up to 4 mm long with pale border. Fronds simple, closely spaced to tufted, erect, glabrous. Stipe up to 5 cm long, glabrous. Lamina simple, 16-30 (including fertile segment) × 1.5-2.3 cm, narrowly elliptic in outline, base tapering, margins entire, midrib pale and prominent below. Fertile segment linear, situated on top of the sterile lamina, c. 5(-20) × 0.3 cm. Sori are spread out over the underside of the fertile segment.


The fertile segment on top of the sterile lamina makes it easy to distinguish B. spicata from other species.


spicata: arranged in a spike, referring to the fertile segment at the apex of the frond.


In low-altitude, semi-deciduous forest in montane areas, rain forest, Brachystegia woodland/mist forest boundery.

Distribution worldwide

Afrika, Comoro Islands, Madagascar, Réunion, Sao Tomé, Seychelles.

Distribution in Africa

Cameroon, Congo, Dem. Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea (incl. Bioko), Gabon, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania , Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Epiphytic, lithophytic.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 202 - 203. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 319 - 320. (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 151.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Pages 99 - 100.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Page 159. (Includes a picture).
  • Tardieu-Blot, M.-L. (1964) Ptéridophytes vol.3.Flore du Cameroun, Page 342. (Includes a picture).
  • Thardieu-Blot, M.L. (1964) Ptéridophytes vol.8.Flore du Gabon, Page 204.
  • Verdcourt, B. (2001) Polypodiaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 15 - 16. (Includes a picture).