Polystichum - Dryopteridaceae

Polystichum kilimanjaricum Pic. Serm.






Common name


Rhizome erect to sub-erect, up to 18 cm long; rhizome scales redbrown, narrowly triangular in outline, to 9 x 0.8 mm. Fronds gemmiferous, tufted, 8–12 per plant, sub-erect to arching, to 100 cm long. Stipe reddish-brown at base, pale above, with adaxial groove, up to 43 cm long, 8 mm in diameter, persistent base with dense brownish-red narrowly triangular scales up to 9 x 0.8 mm, often with very narrow paler brown margin with often recurved outgrowths, higher up with two types of scale, the larger ovate black-brown scales up to 18 x 7 mm, the smaller papery, straw-coloured or reddish, narrowly ovate. Lamina firmly herbaceous to almost leathery, upper surface olive green, paler underneath, oblong in outline, up to 69 cm long, 2-pinnate. Rhachis straw-coloured with an adaxial groove, with similar but smaller and paler scales than those on stipe, with 1–3 gemmiferous buds in the pinna axils near the apex. Pinnae up to 35 free pairs, triangular to ovate in outline, basal pinnae not or only slightly reduced in size, often somewhat deflexed, ovate, narrowly ovate or oblong attenuate, up to 14 x 3.5 cm; pinnules up to 14 free pairs, up to 20 x 10 mm; lower surface with dense needle-shaped scales up to 2.5 mm long; costa with upper surface groove covered in needle-shaped scales up to 7 mm long; venation evident or obscure. Sori median, arranged in one or two rows on acroscopic auricle, discrete, circular, ± 1.4 mm in diameter; indusium persistant, peltate, subcircular to shapeless, maximal radial length l mm, brown.



kilimanjaricum: from the Kilimanjaro Mts. in Tanzania were the type specimen was found.


Hagenia zone and gianth heath zone, upper moist forest, 2600-3000m.

Distribution worldwide

Endemic to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.

Distribution in Africa

Tanzania .

Growth form



  • 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.
  • Roux, J.P.; Shaffer-Fehre, M. & Verdcourt, B. (2007) Dryopteridaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Page 30. (Includes a picture).