Sphaerostephanos - Thelypteridaceae

Sphaerostephanos arbuscula (Willd.) Holttum ssp. africanus Holttum






Common name


Rhizome erect to 30 cm or more, with thick layer of roots; rhizome scales lanceolate in outline, 3–4 mm long, dark brown, distinctly hairy. Fronds monomorphic, tufted, 0.5–1.5 m tall. Stipe 5–10 cm long, densely shortly adpressed hairy. Lamina bipinnatifid, narrowly oblong in outline, 35–70 x 12–28 cm, with 5–10 pairs of lower pinnae gradually reduced; largest pinnae linear-lanceolate in outline, 7.5–16 x 1–1.7 cm, apex acuminate to rather blunt, base not auricled at the acroscopic side but only slightly dilated on both sides at base, usually distinctly crenate-serrate for 1–1.5 mm but sometimes only slightly so, lower surface densely hairy and with spherical glands, upper surface of pinnae only rather sparsely glandular; lobes shortly obliquely ovate, up to 3 x 3 mm ; veins 4–6 pairs, 1/2 pairs anastomosing next to the short sinus-membrane. Sori forming 3–4 lines on each side ± parallel to pinna costa; indusium with short hairs and glands; sporangia with yellow glands.



arbuscula: resembling a small bush.


Streamside and riverine fringing forest of Breonadia and other rubiaceae, lowland Allanblackia rainforest and intermediate rainforest; sometimes on rocky river banks; 150-1500m.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

Kenya, Tanzania .

Growth form



  • 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 210.
  • Verdcourt, B (2006) Thelypteridaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 38 - 40.