Christella - Thelypteridaceae

Christella buchananii (Schelpe) J.P. Roux






Thelypteris dentata (Forssk.) E. P. St. John var. buchananii Schelpe

Common name


Rhizome shortly creeping, c. 10 mm in diameter; rhizome scales c. 5 mm long, dark brown, thinly pilose, entire. Fronds monomorphic, closely spaced, arching, not proliferous, thinly herbaceous. Stipe up to 25 cm long, pale to greyish brown, minutely pubescent to subglabrous. Lamina deeply 2-pinnatifid, narrowly elliptic to lanceolate in outline, apex tapering to a point with a deeply pinnatifid terminal segment, basal pinnae 1 or 2 pairs reduced, up to 1.6 × 0.54 m; pinnae narrowly lanceolate, ultimate lobes oblong, slightly falcate, apex rounded, margin entire, basal acroscopic lobe enlarged and sometimes overlapping the rhachis; sparsely hairy on both surfaces, more so along the costa and costules; rhachis thinly set with long hairs; veins 2-3 pairs meeting below the sinus and a single vein joining in the sinus. Sori round, up to 20 per lobe; indusia small, hairy, up to 1 mm wide.


Christella dentata has 1 pair of veins meeting below the sinus and a single vein joining in the sinus, 1 or 2 pairs gradually reducing basal pinnae. Pneumatopteris unita has an erect rhizome and 4 to 5 pairs of veins meeting below or at the sinus.
C. buchananii look for: creeping rhizome, 2 or 3 pairs of gradually reducing pinnae, 2 or 3 pairs of veins meeting below the sinus.


buchananii: named after the Reverend John Buchanan (1821-1903).


Deeply shaded streambanks in low to medium altitude, evergreen or semideciduous forest.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 263 - 264. As Thelypteris dentata var. buchananii (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 686 - 687. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 388 - 389. As Christella dentata var. buchananii
  • 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 202.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 120.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Pages 197 - 198. As Thelypteris dentata var. buchananii