Cyrtomium - Dennstaedtiaceae

Cyrtomium falcatum (L.f.) C. Presl.






polypodium falcatum L.f.
Aspidium falcatum (L.f.) Sw.
Dryopteris falcata (L.f.) Kuntze
Polystichum falcatum (L.f.) Diels
Phanerophlebia falcata (L.f.) Copel.

Common name

Asiatic holly fern.


Rhizome erect, massive, with several fronds at apex; rhizome scales up to 20 x 5 mm, ovate to oblong-lanceolate in outline, apex gradually tapering to a point, reddish brown to brown, paler near margin, papery. Fronds 60 x 25 cm (up to 1 m long), tufted, erect, coriaceous, evergreen, monomorphic, blade/stipe ratio: 3:2. Stipe 10-40 cm long, strawcoloured, scales similar to those on rhizome. Lamina 15-60 x 8-20 cm, pinnate, oblong-lanceolate to elliptic-oblong in outline, leathery, glossy, bright green, glabrous above, wooly scales below early, then falling. Pinnae 4 to 16 pairs and an irregular apical pinna, 4-9(-12) x 1.5-3 cm, asymmetrical ovate in outline, curved, pointed at the tip, base unequally wedge-shaped, sometimes with short, basal, acroscopic lobe, not reduced basally, dark green and glossy above, dull and pale green beneath, hairless on both surfaces; margins often wavy or coarsely and irregularly toothed; veins netted. rhachis as for stipe. Sori many (± 220 per pinna), round, c. 1.5 mm, dispersed on the lower surface of pinnae throughout or sometimes confined to the upper pinnae; indusium circular, peltate, brown, sometimes blackish center, persistent, hairless.


naturalised in South Africa


falcatum: falcate, reference to the sickle-shaped pinnae of this fern.


Various habitats, including crevices in coastal cliffs in South Africa.

Distribution worldwide

Japan, Korea, China (eastern and southern parts), Vietnam, India, naturalised in Australia, South Africa and the United States.

Distribution in Africa

South Africa.

Growth form

Lithophytic, terrestrial.


  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature. Pages 448 - 449. (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 119.
  • Stuart, T. (2004-) Hardy Fern Library. Published on the internet: Page 0. (Includes a picture).