Polystichum - Dryopteridaceae

Polystichum magnificum F. Ballard






Common name


Rhizome short-creeping, branched, up to 12 mm in diameter; rhizome scales papery, reddish, narrowly linear in outline, up to 30 x 2 mm. Fronds gemmiferous, 6–7 per plant, erect to suberect, up to 113 cm long. Stipe reddish-brown at base, straw-coloured above, up to 47 cm long, 0.9 cm in diameter, with adaxial groove, scales dense, reddish, narrowly ovate in outline, up to 40 x 2 mm, margin with widely spaced projections, apex needle-shaped, scales towards top of stipe more variable in size, larger scales narrowly ovate, up to 28 x 8 mm, smaller scales narrowly triangular and shortly stalked. Lamina leathery, dark green above, slightly paler below, narrowly ovate to oblong in outline, up to 66 cm long, 2-pinnate to 3-pinnatifid. Pinnae oblong‑ovate in outline, up to 13 cm long. Pinnules inaequilaterally ovate, lobate, crenate, lowest pinnules acroscopically incised to or near to adaxial groove, both surfaces with dense reddish papery scales 4–5 mm long, simple or with short marginal outgrowths at base, often twisted; venation evident. Rhachis straw-coloured, up to 40 cm long, with adaxial groove, with dense reddish ovate acuminate scales and often with a single gemmiferous bud near apex, densely enclosed by reddish bud scales. Costa similar to rhachis but with smaller scales. Sori medial to inframedial, arranged in 1 row, discrete at maturity, circular, up to 2.2 mm in diameter; indusium persistent, peltate, incomplete to circular, erose, maximum radial length 1.14 mm, brown.



magnificum: magnificent


Bamboo zone or moorland, in sheltered high altitude areas.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda.

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, Pages 29 - 30. (Includes a picture).