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Incl. Lygodiaceae

Terrestrial ferns, small and erect or climbing, rhizome underground, mostly short-creeping with close fronds, dorsiventral or radial, vasculature a protostele or medullated protostele, young parts bearing thick septate hairs. Fronds very varied, simple to dichotomous or pinnate, or reduced to a stalk, sometimes the rachis long, flexuous and climbing, veins free, pinnate or dichotomous, sometimes anastomosing without included free veinlets. Sporangia borne on sorophores at ends of veins of fronds or on special branches of the frond, annulus almost apical, the sporangia splitting from the annulus to the base; spores trilete or monolete (Schizaea), lacking a perispore, the surface usually sculptured.


A widespread family with 4 genera of predominently tropical distribution, with c. 150 species. Two genera are present in Papuasia with c. 16 species.


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

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

Selling, O. 1947. Further studies in the Schizaeaceae. Svensk Bot. Tidskr. 41: 431 - 450. (key to Schizaea digitata group.)


1 Fronds of adult plants dichotomously branched or simple; the fertile lobes at the end of a frond or its branches; indusia lacking

Schizaea (7)

Fronds of adult plants scandent with a twining rachis and very short lateral branches bearing additional leafy branches; each sporangium protected by a separate indusium Lygodium (9)


Some authors divide the genus Schizaea further:

1 Fertile lobes of lamina 25-50mm long, all attached close together at the apex of the frond; lamina 2mm or more wide Actinostachys (2)
Fertile lobes of lamina 5-10mm long, attached in 2 rows along a common rachis, resembling a brush; lamina 1mm or less wide Schizaea (5)

Because of its leafy, scandent habit, 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).

Updated November 1999 by Jim Croft (