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Incl. Cheilanthaceae

Small to medium-sized, terrestrial or rupestral ferns, rhizome short-creeping to ascending with clustered fronds, dictyostelic, less often long-creeping and solenostelic, bearing narrow, non-clathrate, basally attached scales. Fronds long-stipitate, the stipe and rachis slender, dark and polished, hairy, scaly, or naked, with a single U- or V-shaped vascular strand, the lamina pinnate to tripinnate-pinnatifid, or palmatifid or pinnate, sometimes with multicellular hairs, or scales, or naked, sometimes abaxially farinose, the veins free (except in the sori) and 1 - several-times forked, or anastomosing without included free veinlets; fronds uniform or dimorphic with the fertile fronds more contracted and elongate than the sterile. Sori submarginal, terminal on the enlarged ends of the veins, discrete, or spreading laterally and +/- confluent, sometimes occupying the whole margin of the leaflet, exindusiate but protected by the reflexed and +/- modified (scariose) margin of the leaflet, paraphyses present or absent, annulus longitudinal, interrupted; spores globose, trilete, smooth to granulose, spiny, verrucose or corrugated.


A widespread, tropical and temperate family of c. 8 genera, considered to be 14 or more by some authors, encompassing over 200 species, many of which grow in dry environments. In Papuasia there are 4 (or 6) genera with c. 9 species.


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

Prantl, K. (1882. Die Farngattungen Cryptogramme und Pellaea. Bot. Jahrb. 3: 403 - 430.

Quirk, H., Chambers, T.C. & Regan, M. 1983. The genus Cheilanthes in Australia. Aust. J. Bot. 31: 501 - 553.

Tryon, R.M. 1942. A revision of the genus Doryopteris. Contrib. Gray Herb. 143: 1 - 80.



Sori elongate, continuous or broken, along the margins of the lamina and protected by the reflexed margin


Sori at the ends of veins; sometimes +/- protected by reflexed marginal flaps

Cheilanthes (5 - 6 )


Fronds much dissected, the ultimate lamina lobes small and connected by a narrow wing

Cheilanthes (5 - 6)

Fronds not so dissected, if much branched then having quite distinct leaflets not connected by a wing



Fronds simple and lobed, or if deeply pinnatifid then sori quite continuous along the margin

Doryopteris (2)

Fronds pinnate, with distinct, stalked leaflets

Pellaea (1)


Some authors prefer to divide the genus Cheilanthes further:


Fronds +/- densely hairy or scaly; sporangia not noticeable protected by reflexed margin of lamina

Notholaena (1)

Fronds glabrous or very sparsely hairy beneath; sporangia protected by the reflexed margin of the lamina



Lower surface of lamina with a dense white or yellowish farinose covering (often not visible on some spirit-preserved or heat-dried specimens; sporangia few and large, often solitary

Aleuritopteris (3)

Lower surfaces of lamina green, without such covering; sporangia smaller and more numerous

Cheilanthes (1)

In some treatments the family Sinopteridaceae is combined with Hemionitidaceae, Cryptogrammitaceae, Parkeriaceae into an enlarged Adiantaceae.

Updated November 1999 by Jim Croft (