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Incl. Grammitidaceae

Very small to medium size epiphytic ferns, sometimes rupestral, rarely terrestrial, rhizome short-creeping, erect-ascending or wiry and long-creeping with spaced fronds, solenostelic or dictyostelic, bearing non-clathrate or subclathrate, mostly non-peltate, scales, the scales sometimes ciliate or setulose. Fronds long-stipitate or with a short stipe and decurrent lamina, commonly borne in 2 rows, apparently articulate to the rhizome or not, with 2 vascular bundles, lamina simple and narrow to pinnatifid or pinnate to bipinnatifid (rarely tripinnatifid), often hairy, veins free, simple or once- to several-times forked, rarely casually anastomosing (regularly anastomosing in Loxogramme. Sori exindusiate, round or elongate, superficial or immersed in cavities in the lamina, intra marginal or marginal, sometimes protected by folded apical margins, sometimes an expanded coenosorus, in a single (sometimes more) row either side of the midrib or costule, annulus longitudinal, interrupted, sporangia on a uniseriate stalk, often setulose, paraphyses mostly absent, rarely filamentous or clavate; spores trilete, chlorophyllous (green), globose tetrahedral, lacking a perispore.


A more or less cosmopolitan family of c. 12 closely related genera, some doubtfully distinct, covering well over 500 species. In Papuasia c. 150 species are accommodated in 8 genera.


Copeland, E.B. 1916. The genus Loxogramme. Philip. J. Sci. Bot. 11: 43 - 47.

Copeland, E.B. 1951. Grammitis. Philip. J. Sci. 80: 93 - 271.

Copeland, E.B.- 1952. Grammitidaceae of New Guinea. Philip. J. Sci. 81: 81 - 119.

Parris, B.S. 1983. A taxonomic revision of the genus Grammitis Swartz (Grammitidaceae: Filicales) in New Guinea. Blumea 29: 13 - 222.



Fronds simple and entire, or with somewhat undulate edges


Fronds deeply pinnately lobed to bipinnately lobed



Scales thin and clathrate, grey; rhizome fleshy (Polypodiaceae)

Loxogramme (c. 6)

Scales opaque, brown, or apparently absent; rhizome wiry or tough



Sori round or obliquely elliptical, separate

Grammitis (c. 64)

Sori elongate, parallel to the costa and the edge of the lamina, or confluent at the apex of the frond



Sori in grooves between the margin and the costa

Scleroglossum (c. 3)

Sori +/- confluent near the apex, not in grooves

Grammitis (c. 64)


One vein, sometimes forked, and 1 sorus on each lamina lobe


Each lobe with a pinnate group of veins, bearing more than 1 sorus



Fertile lobes flat


Fertile lobes partly reflexed protecting sori



Sori superficial

Xiphopteris (c. 10)

Sori deeply sunk in marginal and submarginal pockets

Prosaptia (c. 8)


Lobes thin, only basiscopic margin reflexed

Calymmodon (c. 12)

Lobes coriaceous, both margins reflexed towards the apex and enclosing the sorus

Acrosorus (1 - 2)


Sori superficial or sunk in cavities perpendicular to the surface of the lamina

Ctenopteris (c. 55)

Sori deeply sunk in submarginal pockets not oblique to the surface of the lamina

Prosaptia (c. 8)


Loxogramme is ananomalous in this family with its large clathrate scales; it is included in the Polypodiaceae because of similarity with other genera of that family but is anomalous there with its obviously clathrate scales and trilete (rarely monolete) spores. It remains awkwardly placed in either family; one solution was to assign it to its own family, Loxogrammaceae. The fleshy rhizome with clathrate scales is suggestive of Vittariaceae.

The remaining genera are very closely related and are largely genera of convenience. Some authors prefer to unite Ctenopteris with Prospatia; in the extreme case most of the genera are united under Grammitis; a detailed study is being undertaken to sort out this mess (Parris: pers comm.).

In the past it was common practice to include the Grammitidaceae with the Polypodiaceae and a few modern authors continue to do this.

Updated November 1999 by Jim Croft (