Polystichum - Dryopteridaceae

Polystichum dracomontanum Schelpe

Photo: JE. Burrows
South Africa

Photo: JE. Burrows
South Africa






Common name


Rhizome ascending to procumbent, to 10 mm in diameter, surrounded by persistent stipe bases; rhizome scales brown, linear in outline, margin subentire. Fronds strongly erect to arching, up to 90 cm long, thickly coracious. Stipe pale green when fresh, up to 50 cm long, with hair-like, red-brown scales and larger, broad, black-brown scales with pale margins, more numerous towards the base. Lamina lanceolate to narrowly ovate in outline, 2 pinnate, infrequently 3- pinnatifid. Pinnules upper surface glossy, very dark green, undersurface matt light green, glabrous on both surfaces when mature, margins toothed, somewhat revolute. Rhachis sparsely set with red-brown, hairlike scales. Sori circular, discrete to confluent at maturity; indusium peltate, membranous, pale brown, somewhat toothed or entire, 1-2 mm in diameter.



dracomontanum: from the Drakensberg, the area where this species occurs.


Moist south-facing slopes among boulders in open grassland, in Pteridium scrub, in grassland-forest ecotone, understorey and along streams in high altitude montane forest scrub.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

Lesotho, South Africa.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 316 - 317. (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 462 - 463. (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 137.