Macrothelypteris - Thelypteridaceae

Macrothelypteris torresiana (Gaudich.) Ching






Polystichum torresiana Gaudich.
Thelypteris torresiana (Gaudich.) Alston

Common name


Rhizome shortly creeping, ca. 15 mm in diameter; rhizome scales narrowly lanceolate in outline, margin entire, brown. Fronds monomorphic, closely spaced, tufted, herbaceous. Stipe 0.25-1 m, glaucous but light brown when dry, glabrous or with a few scales near the base. Lamina 3-pinnate to 4-pinnatifid, deltate in outline, 25-100 x 20-65 cm; lowest pinnae largest, up to 38 cm long, sub-opposite pinnules oblong to lanceolate in outline, apex tapering to a point, sessile; ultimate lobes oblong in outline, apex rounded, base adnate, margin deeply lobed to bluntly toothed, sparsely hairy above, denser along the tertiary rhachis, undersurface loosely hairy; veins free; rhachis and secondary rhachises densely hairy in unfurling fronds, with a prominent ridge of brush-like hairs along the upper surface, becoming hairless with maturity, tertiary rhachis narrowly winged. Sori circular, 1 per lobe; indusium 0.2 mm in diameter, irregularly toothed, hairless or with a few minute hairs.


Naturalised in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern and Western Cape in South Africa.


torresiana: uncertain; probebly after the islands of the Torres Straits between Australia and Papua New Guinea or after a person that Gaudichaud might have had in mind.


Moist situations in shade of evergreen and semideciduous forest, from coast to ca. 100 km inland.

Distribution worldwide

Madagascar, RĂ©union, Mauritius to tropical Asia, Australia, Polynesia and Hawaii; naturalised in Africa and tropical America.

Distribution in Africa

South Africa.

Growth form

Lithophytic, terrestrial.


  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature. Pages 670 - 671. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 381 - 382. (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. Pages 205 - 206.