Microsorum - Polypodiaceae

Microsorum scolopendria (Burm. f.) Copel.

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: BT. Wursten

Photo: BT. Wursten
Dem. Republic of Congo






Phymatodes scolopendria (Burm. f.) Ching
Polypodium phymatodes L.
Drynaria phymatodes (L.) Fée
Pleopeltis phymatodes (L.) T.Moore

Common name


Rhizome widely creeping, up to 1 cm in diameter; rhizome scales dark brown, lanceolate, tapering to a point, finely toothed, later lost and surface becoming white. Fronds widely spaced, coriaceous, glabrous. Stipe up to 45 cm long, stramineous to light brown, glabrous. Lamina up to 60 × 30 cm, deltate-ovate to broadly oblong in outline, deeply pinnatifid into 4-8 pairs of lobes and a terminal segment. Lobes up to 15 × 3 cm, narrower in fertile than in sterile fronds, narrowly oblong to linear in outline, apex pointed, margins entire to somewhat wavy. Sori 2-3 mm in diameter, in 1-2 regular to irregular lines on either side of the costae, slightly sunken into the lamina, prominent on the upper side, exindusiate, with nonpeltate paraphyses.



skolopendrion: a millipede; a comparison alluding to the creeping rhizome with its rootlets.


In low-altitude areas in Brachystegia woodland and riverine forest.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, Madagascar, Comoro and Mascarene islands, Sri Lanka, southeastern Asia, China, Australia and Polynesia.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Dem. Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea (incl. Bioko), Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan and South Sudan, Tanzania , Togo, Uganda, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Epiphytic, lithophytic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 200 - 202. (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 552 - 553. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 314 - 316. (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 161.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Pages 101 - 102. (Includes a picture).
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta. Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Pages 153 - 155. As Phymatodes scolopendria (Includes a picture).