Ampelopteris - Thelypteridaceae

Ampelopteris prolifera (Retz.) Copel.

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Goniopteris prolifera (Retz.) C.Presl
Dryopteris prolifera (Retz.) C.Chr.
Thelypteris prolifera (Retz.) P.J.Vorster
Hemionitis prolifera Retz.
Meniscium proliferum (Retz.) Sw.
Cyclosorus proliferus (Retz.) Tardieu & C.Chr.

Common name


Rhizome long creeping, stout, up to 1 cm in diameter; rhizome scales triangular in outline, apex gradually tapering to a point, margins entire, up to 2 mm long, black. Fronds monomorphic, closely spaced, up to 1.2-1.4 m long, arching, proliferous at intervals along the rhachis, thinly coriaceous. Stipe up to 40 cm long, pale brown, hairless. Lamina pinnate, oblong to lanceolate in outline, apex of indefinite growth, lower 3-4 pairs of pinnae gradually reduced in size, up to 1 × 0.26 m, undersurface sparsely set with minute hairs, upper surface hairless; pinnae narrowly oblong in outline, shortly petiolate to sessile, apex pointed, base truncate, often with the basal acroscopic lobe overlapping the rhachis, margin shallowly incised into lobes with 5-7 pairs of veins anastomosing below the shallow sinus, 3-15 x 0.8-2 cm; rhachis pale brown, hairless. Sori round to elongated, situated along the veins, with paraphyses; exindusiate.


Resembles Pneumatopteris unita which has a single gemmae positioned at the apex of the rhachis, an erect rhizome and 4-5 pairs of veins meeting below the sinus; this species is not found in full sun.
Ampelopteris prolifera look for: proliferous habit with several gemmae positioned along the rhachis, shortly creeping rhizome, 5-7 pairs of veins anostomising.


prolifera: bearing plantlets; this plant produces adventituous shoots from the lamina.


Among grass, sedges, reed banks of Phragmites on banks of rivers, ponds or lakes in hot deciduous woodland, sometimes in light shade of riverine forest.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, throughout the tropics of the old world to New Caledonia, New guinea and Australia, also Madagascar and Mascarene Islands.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Dem. Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea (incl. Bioko), Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania , Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form



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  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature. Pages 700 - 701. (Includes a picture).
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  • Verdcourt, B (2006) Thelypteridaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 28 - 30. (Includes a picture).