Phlebodium - Polypodiaceae

Phlebodium aureum L.






Polypodium aureum L.

Common name


Rhizome creeping, up to 3 cm in diameter; rhizome scales dense, golden brown, up to 2 cm long. Fronds up to 1.3 m long, glabrous, herbaceous. Stipe up to 50 cm long, glabrous with a few scales near the base. Lamina deeply pinnatifid into 8-16 (up to 35) pairs of pinna with a terminal segment, bright green or glacous. Lobes lanceolate to elliptic to linear in outline, apex pointed, venation reticulate, forming distinctive polygonal areoles, margins entire. Sori round, c. 2 mm in diameter, in 2 rows on each side of the costae, situated at the junction of 2 included veinlets, exindusiate.


Confusion possible with Microsorum scolopendria. The latter has blackish brown rhizome scales (not golden brown) and 4-8 pairs of pinna (not 8-16, up to 35).


aureum: golden; the rhizome scales are golden brown.


Moist evergreen riverine forest and forest margins.

Distribution worldwide

Introduced to South Africa and Zimbabwe. native to Central America.

Distribution in Africa

South Africa, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Epiphytic, lithophytic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Page 338. (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 564 - 565. (Includes a picture).
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 103. As *Polypodium aureum
  • 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.