Christella - Thelypteridaceae

Christella altissima Holttum






Thelypteris altissima (Holttum) P.J.Vorster

Common name


Rhizome widely creeping, ca. 1 cm in diameter. Stipe ca. 0.4 m long, sparsely set with scales 10 x 1.5 mm. Lamina deeply 2-pinnatifid, up to 2 m long, lanceolate in outline, basal pinnae abruptly reducing, with most basal ± 6 pairs vestigial, the larger ones with enlarged, acuminate, crenate basal acroscopic lobes; pinnae apex tapering to a point, base somewhat truncate, up to 28-34 x 2.5-3.5 cm, lobed 2/3 to 3/4 to the costa into falcate rounded lobes; veins 11-15 paired, 1.5-3 pairs anastomosing below the sinus, a futher single side vein joining at the sinus; costae with hairs 0.6 mm above, costules and veins set with hairs of the same lenght. Sori medial, the stalks of the sporangia sometimes bearing unicellular hairs; indusiate.


Christella altissima look for: very large size, veins anastomosing below sinus plus single side vein joining at sinus, presence of acicular hairs on the stalks of many sporangia.


altissima: very tall, reference to the very long frond.


On the site of a bog at the Head of Durban Bay; probably extinct due to habitat transformation.

Distribution worldwide


Distribution in Africa

South Africa.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 262 - 263. (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 682 - 683. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Page 387.
  • 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 202.