Polystichum - Dryopteridaceae

Polystichum setiferum (Forssk.) T.Moore ex Woyn.






Polypodium setiferum Forssk.
Aspidium angulare Kit. ex Willd.
Polystichum angulare (Kit. ex Willd.) C.Presl.
Dryopteris setifera (Forssk.) Woyn. ex Schinz & Thell. var. (Kit. ex Willd.) Maire

Common name

Soft shield fern.


Rhizome erect. Fronds 150 x 15 cm, evergreen, monomorphic, blade/stipe ratio: 3:1, but more in juveniles. Stipe grooved, mixed large and small, golden-brown scales, the largest corn flake-like. Lamina 2-pinnate, lanceolate in outline, widest at the middle, soft-textured. Pinnae 30 to 40 pair, 6-8 cm, the lower pinnae bending forward, the lowest 45°. Pinnules fat, short, the basal lobe upwards or outwards enlarged, margins toothed, spiny, veins free, forked. Costae grooved above, discontinuous with the rhachis, rhachis and costa (less so) scales linear to wooly, golden brown. Sori round, in 1 row between the pinna midrib and margin; indusium peltate, shriveling upwards like an inverted umbrella, green young, golden brown, tan at end, central.



setiferum: saeta, a bristle or stiff hair, fero: to bear or carry.


Lowlands, near water, but not wet, a moderate calcicole.

Distribution worldwide

Europe, Africa.

Distribution in Africa

Algeria, Morocco and Western Sahara, Tunesia.

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 138.
  • Stuart, T. (2004-) Hardy Fern Library. Published on the internet: http://hardyfernlibrary.com/ferns/home.cfm. Page 0.