Christella - Thelypteridaceae

Christella hispidula (Decne.) Holttum

Photo: NR. Crouch

Photo: NR. Crouch

Photo: NR. Crouch

Photo: NR. Crouch






Thelypteris hispidula (Decne.) Reed
Thelypteris quadrangularis (Fée) Schelpe
Christella hilsenbergii (C.Presl) Holttum
Cyclosorus contigua Rosenst.

Common name


Rhizome erect or inclining, c.20 mm in diameter; rhizome scales up to 6 mm long, dark brown, lanceolate, often thinly pilose. Fronds tufted, arching, not proliferous, herbaceous. Stipe up to 40 cm long, pale brown, thinly set with minute stiff hairs. Lamina up to 59 × 30 cm, ovate to broadly lanceolate in outline, deeply 2-pinnatifid, apex tapering to a point with a pinnatifid terminal segment, basal 2 pairs of pinnae slightly reduced and deflexed. Pinnae linear-oblong, apex tapering to a point; ultimate lobes narrowly oblong, slightly falcate, apex rounded, basal acroscopic lobe enlarged; both surfaces with long, white hairs, more so below, particularly along the veins, costae and costules; veins 1 pair meeting some way below the sinus. Rhachis set with long pale hairs. Sori round, up to 13 per lobe; indusia coriaceous, thickly set with long white hairs.


Christella hispidula resembles C. dentata but the latter has 1 pair of veins meeting below the sinus and a single vein joining in the sinus and a clearly creeping rhizome.
C. hispidula look for: 1 pair of veins meeting below the sinus, 1 or 2 pairs of slightly reduced pinnae and an erect to inclining rhizome.


hispidula: minutely rough with stiff hairs (hispidulous)


Terrestrial on forest floor away from water or along streambanks in forests, always in deep shade.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, E. tropical Asia and tropical S. America.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Equatorial Guinea (incl. Bioko), Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania , Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 264 - 265. As Thelypteris hispidula (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 688 - 689. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 387 - 388. As Christella hilsenbergii (Includes a picture).
  • Kornas, J. (1979) Distribution and ecology of the Pteridophytes in Zambia. Polska Akademia Nauk Wydzial II Nauk Biologicznych. Pages 92 - 93. As Thelypteris quadrangularis
  • 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 203.
  • 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 195 - 196. As Thelypteris quadrangularis