Dryopteris - Dryopteridaceae

Dryopteris esterhuyseniae Schelpe & N.C. Anthony






Common name


Rhizome creeping, up to 20 mm in diameter; rhizome scales lanceolate in outline, c. 7 mm long, apex tapering to a point, margin irregularly toothed. Fronds erect to arching, very weakly dimorphic, fertile fronds slightly longer than sterile fronds, thickly corioveous. Stipe a third to half of lamina lenght, pale green when fresh, strawcoloured to reddish when dry, darker at the base, scaly. Lamina c. 30 x 10 cm, ovate-lanceolate or somewhat deltate in outline, 2-pinnate to 3-pinnatifid, basal pinnae hardly reduced, only slightly developed basiscopically. Pinnae oblong in outline, apex pointed. Pinnules unequally deltate, pinnatifid into rounded, usually overlapping, irregurly toothed lobes, upper surface hairless, undersurface set with occasional hairlike scales, c. 0.5 mm long. Rhachis and secondary rhachis set with irregurlarly sized scales. Sori round, 6-8 per pinnule; indusium 1-2 mm in diameter, thickly membranous, rust-coloured, subentire to erose, often with central processes.


Distinguished from other species by its very thickly textured frond, often with overlapping pinnules and large sori with reddish brown indusia.


esterhuyseniae: after Ms E. Esterhuysen (1912-2006), mounteneer, botanist, plant collector; she found the type specimen of this fern.


Rare montane fern, on basalt, rarely on sandstone, in rocky gulleys, at the base of rock overhangs and around boulders.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

South Africa.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Page 306. (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 484 - 485. (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 121. As synonym of Dryopteris dracomontana Schelpe & N.C. Anthony