Cheilanthes - Sinopteridaceae

Cheilanthes nielsii W.Jacobsen






Common name


Rhizome short, erect, 2-4 mm in diameter; rhizome scales linear in outline, margin entire, up to 6 mm long, castaneous, shiny. Fronds monomorphic, tufted, up to 17.5 cm long, erect to slightly arching, softly herbaceous. Stipe thin, filiform, 1-3 cm long, reddish to cataneous, set with pale, ferrugineous or white glandular hairs, c. 0.5 mm long and with concolorous pale brown to castaneous lanceolate scales of 3-4 mm long at the base. Lamina deeply 2-pinnatifid to 2-pinnate, oblong to oblong-elliptic in outline, basal pinnae reduced in size, 7.5-14 x 2.5-5.3 cm; pinnae 7-8 pairs, oblong-deltate in outline, apex rounded, up to 2.7 x 2.1 cm; pinnules oblong in outline, apex rounded, shallowly lobed with marginal glandular hairs, 0.6-1 x 0.25-0.5 cm, concolorous green, sparsely set with whitish hairs on both surfaces; rhachis and costae reddish-brown, set with spreading capitate hairs similar to those of the stipe on both surfaces. Sori marginal, discrete, set beneath the slightly inrolled margin; indusium absent.



nielsii: named after Mr. Niels Jacobsen, nature conservator, ecologist and herpetologist, who discovered this fern in the Transvaal.


On rocky hillsides around the base of boulders and on rock ledges, in shade or partial sun.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

Botswana, Namibia, South Africa.

Growth form

Lithophytic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 138 - 139. (Includes a picture).
  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature. Pages 362 - 363. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 252 - 254. (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 184.