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Dryopteridaceae

Incl. Didymochlaenaceae

Moderate to large terrestrial ferns, rarely climbers starting from the ground, rhizome mostly erect, less often creeping, mostly radial, dictyostelic, the apex bearing non-clathrate non-peltate scales, often with marginal teeth. Fronds long-stipitate, the stipes not articulate to the rhizome, with 3 or more vascular strands arranged in a simple ring, less often with 2 strands not uniting upwards, lamina pinnate to pinnately decompound, less often simple, axes grooved, the grooves open to admit grooves and axes of a higher or lower order, veins free, mostly forked, or anastomosing with or without free included veinlets; generally little or no dimorphism between sterile and fertile fronds. Sori mostly remote from the margin, dorsal or terminal on the veins, small, round or oblong, mostly indusiate, the indusium peltate or reniform, sometimes completely covering sorus and rupturing when mature, annulus longitudinal, interrupted; spores bilateral, monolete, usually with a variously ornamented perispore.

Distribution

A cosmopolitan family of c. 20 genera and perhaps 300 or more species. In Papuasia there are 6 genera with c. 35 species.

Literature

Copeland, E.B. 1949. Aspidiaceae of New Guinea. Philip. J. Sci. 78: 389 - 475.

Fraser-Jenkins, C.R. 1980. Nomenclatural notes on Dryopteris: 4. Taxon 29: 607 - 612.

Smith, A.R. & Fraser-Jenkins, C.R. 1982. Dryopteris paleacea is a synonym of D. wallichiana. Taxon 31: 326 - 329.

Genera

1a.

Fronds hairy as well as scaly on the costae, costules and rachises; hairs septate, coarse, different from scales

2

Fronds scaly; no hairs distinct from scales (some may be narrow and hair-like)

4

2a.

Sori, when young, spherical and quite enclosed by an indusium which when ripe breaks to expose the sporangia

Diacalpe (1)

Sori otherwise; indusium attached on the basiscopic side of the sorus

3

3a.

Hairs sparse; scales broad and thin

Acrophorus (1-2)

Hairs copious; scales thick and elongate

Stenolepia (2-3)

4a.

Pinnules jointed to the rachis; sori longer than wide

Didymochlaena (1)

Pinnules not jointed to the rachis; sori not elongate

5

5a.

Basal acroscopic leaflet or lobe of middle pinna distinctly nearer to the main rachis than the basal basiscopic leaflet or lobe; fronds never simply pinnate

6

Basal acroscopic lobe of middle pinna not distinctly nearer to the main rachis than the basal basiscopic leaflet or lobe, or fronds simply pinnate throughout

8

6a.

Rhizome long-creeping, with spaced fronds; indusium circular, domed and fully peltate

Rumohra (1)

Rhizome a compact, erect or ascending caudex with a close radiala cluster of fronds; indusium reniform or round-reniform, not peltate

7

7a.

Fronds elongate, basal pinnae not much enlarged on the basiscopic side; rachis often bearing a bud

Polystichum (c. 17)

Fronds broadly deltoid, basal pinnae much enlarged on the basiscopic side; rachis lacking buds.

Arachnioides (2-3)

8a.

Indusium peltate; teeth on edges of lamina often with stiff, slender points

Polystichum (c. 17)

Indusium reniform; teeth not so produced

Dryopteris (c. 6)

Note

There is some confusion over the application of the names Stenolepia, Acrophorus and Diacalpe. Acrophorus is a confused genus and Diacalpe is so close to it that the only record of Diacalpe from Papuasia may be based on a misidentification.

Rumohra is a problematic genus and its placement in the Dryopteridaceae is not without question. Vegetatively it could not be excluded from any of the major genera of the Davalliaceae, but the peltate indusium is totally anomalous in that family. Although the scandent habit and Davallia-like rachis structure is not typical of the Dryopteridaceae, examples are known and it appears plausible to include Rumohra here until the matter is resolved.

The name Dryopteridaceae has been applied to this family, with or without leaving Didymochlaena in its own family (Didymochlaenaceae). Often Dryopteridaceae is combined with Hypoderriaceae, sometimes with Lomariopsidaceae, Athryiaceae and Thelypteridaceae, into a large family, the Aspidiaceae. The validity any of these concepts is not clear at present.


Updated November 1999 by Jim Croft (jim.croft@environment.gov.au)