Athyrium - Woodsiaceae

Athyrium schimperi Moug. ex Fée

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: BT. Wursten

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Asplenium schimperi (Moug. ex Fée) A. Braun
Athyrium solenopteris (Kunze) T.Moore var. madagascarica Bonap.

Common name


Rhizome creeping and branching, 5-8 mm in diameter; rhizome scales lanceolate in outline, apex slowly tapering to a point, margin entire, up to 7 mm long, reddish-brown. Fronds monomorphic, closely spaced, erect, up to 1m tall, herbaceous. Stipe up to 38 cm long, sparsely set with long, pale brown, hair-like scales, more dense so towards the base, straw coloured to pale green, pink on new fronds. Lamina 3-pinnatifid to 3-pinnate, narrowly elliptic to ovate-lanceolate in outline, 23-70 cm × 8-28 cm, lower 4-5 pairs of pinnae reduced in size; pinnae 6-20 pairs, lanceolate in outline, widest at the base, apex tapering to a point, 4-18 x 1.5-5 cm, alternate, set at 80-90° to the rhachis; pinnules 7-18 pairs, unequaly ovate to narrowly oblong in outline, about twice as long as broad, with acroscopic lobe often enlarged, glabrous on both surfaces, margin deeply pinnatifid to sharply serrate-dentate lobes; rhachis pale brown, hairless but with few hairlike scales at the base of the pinnae. Sori 1-7 per pinnule lobe and 14-70 per pinnule, 0.8-1.5 mm, curved, elliptic to J-shaped; indusium pale brown, erose and membranous.


Could be confused with A. newtonii, which is a forest species with an erect rhizome and basal pinnae that are not or slightly reduced. Also resembles A. crassicaule which has a branched rhizome with a series of short erect caudices and basal pinnae that are only slightly reduced.


schimperi: named after W.P. Schimper (1804-1878), German bryologist who first collected this species.


Rock overhangs, earth banks of shaded ravines, rock crevices, sometimes among boulders near streams, exposed or light shade in montane grassland.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, India.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Dem. Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan and South Sudan, Tanzania , Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form



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  • Verdcourt, B. (2003) Woodsiaceae. Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 8 - 10. (Includes a picture).