Woodsia - Woodsiaceae

Woodsia burgessiana Gerr. ex Hook & Baker






Woodsia montividensis (Spreng.) Hieron var. var. burgessiana (Gerr. ex Hook. & Baker) Schelpe

Common name


Rhizome shortly creeping to prostrate, 5-10 mm in diameter; rhizome scales lanceolate in outline, margins pale, translucent, entire, 3-6 mm long, dark shiny brown. Fronds monomorphic, closely packed. Stipe 2-10 cm long, strawcoloured, more black towards the base, variably covered with minute hairlike scales, to glandular, to glabrous. Lamina deeply 2-pinnatifid to 2-pinnate, narrowly elliptic-oblong in outline, 6.5-60 x 2-6 cm; pinnules closely spaced, adnate to secondary rhachises, shortly rectangular in outline, apices rounded, margins deeply to irregularly crenate to serrate, both surfaces sparsely covered with minute, round, golden glands, either sessile or borne on long, flattened, translucent stalks, appearing as pale scales to the naked eye; rhachis sparsely glandular, sessile or stalked. Sori subcircular, up to 1 mm in diameter; indusium cup-shaped, completely enclosing the sporangia but splitting distally into 3-4 lobes folding back or falling of at maturity.


The occurence of this species in Zimbabwe is based on herbarium specimens at SRGH under this name (Mapaura & Timberlake, 2004; Roux 2009). However other literature (Crouch et all., 2011; Burrows, 1990; Jacobsen, 1983) do not mention Zimbabwe as part of the distribution area. Herbarium specimens need to be checked and confirmed.


burgessiana: named after Miss Burgess of Birkenhead, Lancashire, we do not know why.


At high altitudes in montane grassland or alpine scrub, in shelter of boulders, often in boulder scree, or in rock crevices and ledges on cliff faces.

Distribution worldwide

Lesotho, Madagascar, South Africa, Zimbabwe

Distribution in Africa

Lesotho, South Africa, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Lithophytic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 297 - 298. As W. montevidensis var. burgessiana (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 708 - 709. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 430 - 432. As W. montevidensis var. burgessiana (Includes a picture).
  • 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 220.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 140. As W. montividensis (Includes a picture).