Onychium - Pteridaceae

Onychium divaricatum (Poir.) Alston






Trichomanes divaricatum Poir.
Allosorus melanolepis Decne.
Cryptogramma melanolepis (Decne.) Prantl
Onychium melanolepis (Decne.) Kunze
Pteris melanolepis (Decne.) Ettingsh.

Common name


Rhizomes creeping, up to c 20 cm high; rhizome-scales linear in outline, entirely black or with a pale margin. Fronds dimorphic, tufted. Stipe (4--)5-15 (-18) cm long, yellow-green or straw-coloured, with a few scattered scales in the lowermost part. Lamina somewhat irregularly 3-pinnate, deltoid to ovate in outline, (7-)8-18(-20) x 4-12(-13) cm, green, hairless; sterile fronds with linear to narrowly ovate or wedge-shaped pinnules, 3.5-7 x 2.5-5 mm, divided into 2-3(-5) narrowly elliptic lobes; fertile fronds with narrowly oblong to lanceolate pinnules, 1.5-12(-15) x 1-1.25 mm, margin entire, apex pointed. Sori covering the underside of the fertile pinnules, almost completely hidden by the pseudoindusium.


The sterile fronds of this species look a lot like parsley leaves.



In evergreen or acacia bushland, shade, dry, under overhanging rocks or rock crevices, associated with limestone, gypsum or granite.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, Iran, Pakistan, N India, Socotra, Sudan, Yemen.

Distribution in Africa

Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan.

Growth form



  • Hedberg, I; Friis, Ib & Persson, E (2009) Lycopodiaceae to Pinaceae.Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea, vol.1 Pages 67 - 68. (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 178.