Athyrium - Woodsiaceae

Athyrium crassicaule J.P.Roux






Asplenium filix-femina sensu Sim, non Bernh.
Asplenium filix-femina sensu Sim, non (L.) Roth

Common name


Rhizome erect, sparsely brached from the base, up to 9 x 4.5 cm, caudices single or in small clusters; rhizome scales linear in outline, twisted, apex gradually tapering to a point, margin entire, up to 1.4 cm long, dark chestnut brown. Fronds monomorphic, tufted, erect to arching. Stipe up to 50 cm long, green to yellow green, straw-coloured when dry, darker towards the base, base densely set with scales similar to those of the rhizome, more glabrous towards the lamina. Lamina 3-pinnatifid, narrowly ovate to lanceolate in outline, 50-70 x 26-37 cm; pinnae lanceolate to narrowly elliptic in outline, the basal pairs slightly reduced, basiscopic pinnules slightly longer throughout the lamina; ultimate lobes narrowly ovate to oblong in outline, with the acroscopic lobes more developed, hairless on both surfaces, distal margin dentate-serrate; rhachis yellowish, parsely set with scales. Sori 1 per ultimate lobe, set close to the costule, curved or J-shaped; indusium subentire.


A. crassicaule could be confused with A. schimperi and A. newtonii. A. schimperi has a creeping, branched rhizome and obviously reduced basal pinnae. A. newtonii has an unbranched rhizome and erect caudex, it occurs at deeply shaded forest streambanks.


crassicaule: thick-stemmed; this fern has a thick, robust, upright stem.


Base of boulders in high altitude grassland, in openings and on margins of montane forest patches, margins of mist belt forest; 1500-2400m.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

South Africa.

Growth form



  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature. Pages 718 - 719. (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 213.