Elaphoglossum - Lomariopsidaceae

Elaphoglossum spathulatum (Bory) T. Moore var. spathulatum

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Acrostichum spathulatum Bory
Olfersia spathulatum (Bory) C. Presl.

Common name


Rhizome short creeping to suberect, c. 3 mm in diameter; rhizome scales pale brown, narrowly lanceolate, margins entire, apex forming a long drawn out point, up to 4 mm long; phyllopodia absent. Fronds simple, clustered, firmly herbaceous, erect, strongly dimorphous with the fertile fronds longer than the sterile fronds. Sterile fronds: stipe 0.4-1.8 cm long, slender, straw-coloured with orange-tan scales 1-1.5 mm long; lamina 1-2.6 × 0.35-1 cm, narrowly oblanceolate to spathulate, apex rounded, base wedge-shaped and long decurrent, scales of the type of the stipe on both surfaces, 1.5-2.5 mm long; veins obscure, free, simple or rarely once-forked, c. 1 mm apart, at 40-50° angle to costa; hydathodes present but inconspicuous. Fertile frond taller than sterile frond: stipe 2.5-4.6 cm, thin, densely set with almost hair-like, entire, pale brown scales up to 2 mm long; lamina 0.8-1.2 × 0.6-0.85 cm, broadly elliptic to circular, base hardly decurrent, upper surface scaly as the sterile lamina, lower surface completely covered by sporangia, the two halves of the lamina often folded tightly along the midrib over the sporangia and sometimes quite difficult to unfold, intersporangial scales absent.


The small size and the distinctive scales on the lamina separate this species from others. E. spathulatum var. uluguruense has a sterile frond lenght > 4 cm and a blade width:lenght ratio 1:>4.


spathulatum: spoonshaped, referring to the shape of the lamina.


Lithophytic on moss covered rocks along streams in deep shade of moist evergreen forest or sometimes terrestrial on mossy earth banks near streams.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion, Sri Lanka.

Distribution in Africa

Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania , Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Lithophytic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 289 - 290. (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 506 - 507. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 422 - 423. (Includes a picture).
  • Mickel, J.T. (2002) Lomariopsidaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 23 - 24. (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 132.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 152.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Pages 213 - 214.