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Incl. Acrostichaceae

Terrestrial ferns, sometimes growing in swamps; rhizome erect or creeping, solenostelic or dictyostelic, clothed with scales. Fronds long-stipitate, with a +/- U-shaped vascular strand, the lamina pinnatifid to 2-3 pinnate, sometimes tripartite with the basal pinnae greatly enlarged, +/- glabrous, the venation free to regularly anastomosing, the free veins terminating at the margin. The sori elongate along the margin and protected by a scariose reflected pseudoindusium attached to the margin and opening inwards, or exindusiate and completely covering the lower surface of the lamina or a large part of it; annulus longitudinal interrupted; spores trilete, rarely monolete.


A family widespread in the tropical and warmer temperate areas of the world, considered here in the narrow sense, with 5 genera containing c. 300 species. In Papuasia there are 2 genera with c. 27 species.


Copeland, E.B. 1949. Pteridaceae of New Guinea. Philip. J. Sci. 78: 5 - 40.

Holttum, R.E. 1954) (revised 1965). Ferns of Malaya. A revised flora of Malaya. Volume 2. 1 - 643. Govt. Printer, Singapore.

Genera in Australia and Papuasia

1 Sori marginal or submarginal, +/- elongate, protected by an indusium reflexed from the margin... Pteris (c. 25)
Sori acrostichoid, entirely covering the lower surface of the apical pinnae, margins not reflexed... Acrostichum (2)


The structure of the sorus and the vasculature of the stipe of Acrostichum is so different from the many species of Pteris that some authors prefer to allocate it to its own family, the Acrostichaceae.

One species of Pteris has regularly interrupted sori and was described as a new genus, Hemipteris. This is still maintained by some authors. Pteris warburgii has regularly anastomosing veins and unlike all the other Papuasian species of Pteris; it may be convenient to place it in a separate genus.

The family is considered here in its narrow sense. Broader usage by some authors may include Hemionitidaceae, Cryptogrammtaceae, Sinopteridaceae, and Adiantaceae as well.

The family name Pteridaceae has apparently not been validly published according the rules of botanical nomenclature although the name has been validated as a subfamily of the Adiantaceae (Crabbe et al. 1975. However it continues to be widely used in Pteridophyte literature.

Updated November 1999 by Jim Croft (