An Australian Government Initiative [logo]
Information about Australia's flora - Ferns of Australia and PNG
ANBG logo
Home > Gardens | CANBR > ferns > taxa


Small to moderate-sized epiphytes or casually terrestrial, sometimes rupestral, rhizome long-creeping bearing roots on short lateral branches at the base of the fronds, or at intervals or more generally, densely covered with non-clathrate, peltate- or non-peltate-based scales, +/- fleshy, dictyostelic, or solenostelic with long leaf gaps, strongly to moderately dorsiventral, the fronds usually borne in two rows. Fronds short- to long-stipitate, the stipes articulate to short or long phyllopodia or not, fibrovascular bundles several to numerous in a V-shape, the lamina simple to pinnatifid to 4-pinnate pinnatifid, firmly herbaceous to coriaceous, veins free, usually forked, terminating in the +/- cartilaginous margin or in submarginal hydathodes, false veins sometimes recurrent from the sinuses; fertile fronds often more contracted than the sterile, sometimes more dissected. Sporangia borne in a small discrete sori terminal on the veins, on very short side veins or dorsal on the veins, submarginal or sometimes medial, indusiate with the indusium opening towards the margin, attached at base and sometimes at the sides, round, reniform or elongate towards the margin, or sometimes peltate (Rumohra), less often exindusiate, paraphyses absent, pedicel long, 3-seriate, annulus longitudinal, interrupted; spores monolete, smooth to densely tuberculate, translucent, sometimes with a winged or wrinkled perispore (Rumohra).


A family of 11 genera with c. 150 species, mostly in the old world tropics or subtropics. In Papuasia 6 genera are represented by 60 species.


Copeland, E.B. 1927. Davallodes and related genera. Philip. J. Sci. 34: 239 - 257.

Copeland, E.B. 1940. Oleandrid ferns (Davalliaceae) of New Guinea. Philip. J. Sci. 73: 354 - 357.

Holttum, R.E. 1972. The genus Davallodes. Kew bull. 27: 245 - 249.

deJonchere, G.J. 1977. Specific concept in Humata pectinata (J.E. Sm.) Desv. Gard. Bull. Sing. 30: 45 - 58.

Kato, M. 1974. A note on the systematic position of Rumohra adiantiformis. Acta Phytotax. Geobot. 26: 52 - 57.



Rhizome bearing hairs and scales; marginal cells of scales bearing papillose outgrowths

Leucostegia (2)

Rhizome bearing scales only; marginal cells of scales not bearing papillose outgrowths



Fronds simple


Fronds pinnately divided



Indusium attached at the base only or slightly above the base

Humata (c. 20)

Indusium attached along the sides as well as the base

Scyphylaria (2 - 3)


Fronds +/- copiously persistently hairy, at least along axes; lamina thin; indusium small, of various shapes

Davallodes (3)

Fronds not hairy when mature



Indusium peltate, orbicular (Dryopteridaceae)

Rumohra (1 - 2)

Indusium attached at least along the base and opening towards the margin



Indusium attached along the base and the whole of the sides


Indusium attached at the base only, or also a little above the base, not along the whole length of both sides

Humata (c. 20)


Fronds trifoliolate or simply pinnate with elongate narrow pinnae

Scyphularia (2 - 3)

Fronds more copiously divided

Davallia (c. 9)


Rumohra is vegetatively like all other davallioid genera, but with its peltate indusium is slightly anomalous in this family and has been placed by some authors in the Dryopteridaceae near such genera as Arachniodes; it is also awkwardly placed in this family, in spite of the indusial structure, however, there are other dryopterioid genera with creeping dorsiventral rhizomes and Davallia-like rachis structure.

In some treatments the genera of the Oleandraceae are included in this family. The prominent articulations of the fronds and pinnae of the oleandriod genera are lacking in the Davalliaceae, and the stipe and rachis structure is quite different.

Updated November 1999 by Jim Croft (