Polystichum - Dryopteridaceae

Polystichum monticola N.C.Anthony & Schelpe

Photo: JE. Burrows
South Africa






Common name


Rhizome creeping, c. 15 mm in diameter, with persistent stipe bases; rhizome scales up to 10 mm long, laciniate, rust-coloured, concolorous or with chestnut stripes, lanceolate. Fronds tufted at the apex of the rhizome, arching, herbaceous to thinly coriaceous. Stipe green to pale-brown, with rust-coloured scales, becoming subglabrous with age except for a tuft of scales basally. Lamina ovate-truncate in outline, 2-pinnate to 3-pinnatifid, with basal pinnae only slightly reduced, up to 35 × 14 cm. Pinnae narrowly ovate, attenuate. Pinnules narrowly ovate, margins serrate-aristate but aristae not prominent, upper surface hairless, lower surface with occasional hair-like scales. Rhachis and secondary rhachis set with rust-coloured scales. Sori round, up to 1.5 mm in diameter; indusia membranous, erose, c. 1 mm in diameter.



monticola: mountain-loving, this is a fern that favours high altitudes.


Among boulders, at base of cliffs, sometimes not far from streams in montane grassland, scrubs or fynbos; also forest margins and floors.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

Lesotho, South Africa, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Lithophytic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Page 314. (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 458 - 459. (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 138.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 129.