Lepisorus - Polypodiaceae

Lepisorus excavatus (Willd.) Ching

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: BT. Wursten

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Pleopeltis excavata (Bory ex Willd.) Sledge
Polypodium simplex Sw.
Polypodium excavatum Bory ex Willd.
Phymatodes excavata (Bory ex Willd.) C.Presl
Drynaria excavata (Bory ex Willd.) Fée
Polypodium excavatum Willd.
Pleopeltis preussii (Hier.) Tardieu
Polypodium preussii Hieron.

Common name


Rhizome widely creeping, up to 5 mm in diameter, with a whitish, waxy covering; rhizome scales shiny, brown, lanceolate to narrowly ovate in outline, up to 4 mm long, apex pointed, margins paler, subentire. Fronds spaced apart (4-12 mm), erect, membranous, deciduous. Stipe up to 9 cm long, strawcoloured to yellowish, with a few scattered, small brown scales when young. Lamina up to 35(-47) × 4 cm, narrowly lanceolate to narrowly olong-linear, apex gradually tapering to a point or rounded, base narrowly wedge-shaped, margins entire to weakly wavy, glabrous on both surfaces or with a few scales when yound, veins rather obscure. Sori round, 2.5-5 mm in diameter at maturity, in a line on either side of the midrib in the upper half of the lamina, exindusiate, sunken and thus creating a slightly raised impression on the upper surface of the lamina.


This species can be distinguished from Lepisorus schraderi and Pleopeltis macrocarpa by having a thinly membranous, glabrous, deciduous lamina and a rhizome that has a white, waxy coating. Microgramma mauritiana has sori set on the lower part of the lamina (not the upper) and is glabrous.


excavatus: hollowed out, referring to the sori which are embedded in shallow cavities of the lamina.


Dry forest, mist-forest, moist evergreen forest or in high-altitude rocky outcrops, Brachystegia woodland, tree-heath montane zone, partially or deeply shaded.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, Comoro Isl., Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Dem. Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea (incl. Bioko), Ethiopia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, 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. Page 198. As Pleopeltis excavata (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 558 - 559. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 307 - 308. As Pleopeltis excavata (Includes a picture).
  • Kornas, J. (1979) Distribution and ecology of the Pteridophytes in Zambia. Polska Akademia Nauk Wydzial II Nauk Biologicznych. Pages 77 - 78. As Pleopeltis excavata
  • Roux, J.P. (2009) Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands. Strelitzia 23, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Pages 156 - 158.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 100.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Pages 151 - 152. As Pleopeltis excavata
  • Tardieu-Blot, M.-L. (1964) Ptéridophytes vol.3.Flore du Cameroun, Pages 346 - 347.
  • Verdcourt, B. (2001) Polypodiaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 17 - 20. (Includes a picture).