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Incl. Antrophyaceae

Small to moderate-size, pendulous epiphytes, sometimes rupestral, sometimes minute, rhizome fine and creeping, or short-creeping and compact, fleshy, surrounded by a dense mass of water-retaining hairy roots, proto-, soleno- or dictyostelic, densely covered with non-peltate, clathrate scales. Fronds simple, stalkless or with a short stalk grading into the lamina with 1 or 2 vascular strands, lamina thread-like, or strap-like to obovate or spathulate, thin or fleshy, venation simple and solitary (ie. A single vein in the frond of minute species), simple and anastomosing at the margin, or regularly anastomosing to form copious areoles without included free veinlets. Sori elongate, mostly immersed in the lamina, along most of the veins, or along the intramarginal veins, or along the solitary vein of minute species, sporangia on a 3-seriate stalk, annulus longitudinal, interrupted, paraphyses filiform or club-shaped; spores trilete or monolete, smooth, hyaline.


A family of 7 or 8 genera with c. 110 species, in the tropical and warmer temperate parts of the world. In Papuasia there are 4 genera with c. 27 species.



Fronds relatively broad with venation anastomosing freely throughout the lamina, midrib indistinct in the apical part of the frond; sori variously elongate along the veins

Antrophyum (c. 10)

Fronds relatively narrow, venation oblique and anastomosing only at the margin, or with indistinct, free, lateral veins, or with a simple vein



Fronds of moderate size, thick; lateral veins numerous, oblique, straight and parallel to the margin and anastomosing to form a continuous intramarginal vein; sori elongate, immersed in marginal or submarginal grooves for much of the length of the frond

Vittaria (c. 10)

Fronds small and fine; lateral veins few, free and parallel to the costa; sori not marginal, elongate on or near the costa



Fronds small, thin, flat, narrowly oblanceolate, falcate, with a single vein and no lateral veins; the single sorus short, borne along the apical portion of the vein, protected by a green indusial flap arising from the midrib

Monogramma (1)

Fronds thin and thread-like, +/- straight, with a central vein and lateral veins parallel to the margin bearing the sori; sori 1 or more, elongate along the lateral veins, protected by 2 equal or unequal flaps of lamina, one arising from the costa, the other from the lamina outside the soriferous vein

Vaginularia (c. 6)


The genus Rheopteris has ben referred to this family by sosme authors. It has similar fleshy texture, epiphytic habit and clathrate scales but the from is pinnate and the sori are round and discrete. It probably belond in one of the adiantoid families, perhaps near Austrogramme.

Some authors wish to remove Antrophyum to its own family, the Antrophyaceae.

Sometimes the Vittariaceae is combined with several other families in a much-enlarged Adiantaceae, or Pteridaceae.

Updated November 1999 by Jim Croft (