Polypodium - Polypodiaceae

Polypodium vulgare L.






Ctenopteris vulgaris (L.) Newman

Common name


Rhizome creeping, branching, whitish waxy, rather thick, with phylopodia; rhizome scales lanceolate in outline, pale brown, less than 5 mm long. Fronds 25 x 7 cm, evergreen, monomorphic, blade/stipe ratio: 1:1 to 3:1. Stipe jointed at base, straw-colored, narrowly triangular, red-brown scales, to 4 mm, peltate. Lamina pinnatifid, lanceolate to linear in outline, parallel sides in the lower half, truncated base, leathery or herbaceous, mid green, dull in shade, rhachis glabrous above, sparsely scaly below; scales lanceolate-ovate. Pinnae 10 to 20 pair, alternate; margins entire or crenate, rarely toothed; veins free, forking. Sori round, discrete, sunken into the lamina, bulging on the top surface, midway between margin and midrib, on the upper half of the blade; indusium absent.



vulgare: common.


Acidic, well-drained locations, on rocks, logs, hillsides.

Distribution worldwide

Europe, eastern Asia, Africa.

Distribution in Africa

Algeria, Lesotho, Libya, Morocco and Western Sahara, South Africa, 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 164.
  • Stuart, T. (2004-) Hardy Fern Library. Published on the internet: http://hardyfernlibrary.com/ferns/home.cfm. Page 0. (Includes a picture).