Pellaea - Sinopteridaceae

Pellaea rufa A.F.Tryon






Common name


Rhizome slender, creeping, c. 2 mm in diameter; rhizome scales lanceolate in outline, apex with hairtip, base cordate, margin sparsely toothed, up to 4 mm long, pale reddish brown, concolorous. Fronds monomorphic, closely spaced, erect, coriaceous. Stipe 4-9 cm, pinkish red when young, becoming dark brown with age, glabrous but with a few scales at the base. Lamina 2-(3-) pinnate, narrowly oblong-elliptic to lanceolate in outline, 9-25 x 1.5-6 cm; pinnae spread at almost 90° to the rhachis, up to 3 cm long; pinnules broadly oblong-ovoid, apex blunt, base broadly cuneate to truncate, margin entire, shortly petiolate, articulated, 0.3-1 x 0.2-0.6 mm, hairless, dark purplish green above, paler below; venation free, obscure; rhachis and secondary rhachises dark brown, with few pale hairs when young, hairless at maturity. Sori marginal, linear, continuous; indusium continuous along the lateral margin, subentire.



rufa: reddish; referring to the red stipe and rhachis or to the rust-coloured rhizome scales.


Under arid karoid shrub or dry fynbos, on ledges, in rock crevices, at base of boulders; to survive in the extreme climate this fern sheds its pinnules in the dry season.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

South Africa.

Growth form

Lithophytic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 169 - 170. (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 412 - 413. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 276 - 277. (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 191.