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Terrestrial ferns, high-climbing, or scrambling rhizome underground, mostly short-creeping with close or clustered fronds, to long-creeping, dorsiventral or radial, dichotomously branched, vasculature a protostele or medullated protostele, young parts bearing thick septate hairs. Fronds varied, dimorphic (or trimorphic), juvenile fronds once divided with palmat pinnae, fronds of adult plants scandent with a twining long and flexuous rachis, 2 - 4-pinnate, with very short lateral branches bearing a dormant terminal bud and an additional pair of leafy 2 - 3-pinnate branches; ultimate segments stalked or palmately or pinnately lobed, sometime articulateto the stalk; veins free, pinnate or dichotomous, sometimes anastomosing without included free veinlets. Fertile pinnae very slightly to strongly dimorphic. Sporangia borne separately in two rows on sorophores at ends of veins of fronds, sometimes the whole segment contracted and sporogenous, each sporangium protected by a separate indusium; annulus almost apical, the sporangia splitting from the annulus to the base; homosporous, spores trilete, tetrahedral-globose, lacking a perispore, the surface usually sculptured.


A widespread family with a single of predominently tropical and subtropical distribution, with c. 30 species. Represented in in Papuasia with c. 9 species and in Australia by 4.


Alston, A.H.G. & Holttum, R.E. 1959. Notes on the taxonomy and nomenclature in the genus Lygodium Reinwardtia 5: 11 - 22.

Bierhorst, D.W. 1971. Morphology of Vascular Plants. Macmillan, New York. pp. 262 - 266.

Chinnock, R.J. 1998. Lycodiaceae. Fl. Australia 48: 183 - 187.

Holttum, R.E. 1959. Schizaeaceae. Fl. Males. ser. 2, 1: 37 - 61.

Pichi-Sermolli, R.E.G. 1977. Tentamen pteridophytorum generaa in taxonomicum ordinem redigendi. Webbia 31: 313 - 512 (382 - 384).

Genera in Australia and Papuasia

1 A family of a single genus Lygodium (9)


A segregate family of Schizaeaceae, that due to its leafy, branching, scandent habit with indeterminate frond growth, the indusial flap, and trilete spsores, some authors have suggested that Lygodium be removed to its own family Lygodiaceae. This is supported by some cytological evidence (Bierhorst 1971, Pichi Sermolli 1977). This view is by no means universal. The two families are undoubtedly close.

Updated November 1999 by Jim Croft (