Comprehensive Description


Rhizome usually shortly creeping with linear, black or brown, scales. Stipe dark reddish-brown to black, glabrous or with hairs or scales. Fronds pinnate to 4-pinnate with pinnae or ultimate segments articulated, glabrous or pubescent to tomentose. Sori submarginal, confluent into a soral line (rarely discrete), usually covered by a continuous indusium formed from the reflexed margin; paraphyses usually 0.
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Source: Flora of Zimbabwe


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Physical Description


Genus morphology

Genus ''Pellaea'' generally are attached to soils with short to long creeping rhizomes, characterized by overlapping scales that are narrowly linear, with light to reddish or medium brown, often with a darker mid-stripe. the fronds are persistent and erect, persistent, typically not exceeding one meter in length. The more or less cylindric petioles are generally dark or reddish brown to blackish, with a shiny, glabrous character. Leaf blades are one to four-pinnate, with segments generally stalked and free, linear to rounded, sometimes lobed, often folded lengthwise when desiccated. The blade veins are normally free. Sporangia are exhibited in generally continuous, submarginal bands, sometimes among a whitish to yellowish exudate. Segment margins are typically recurved; spores are most often tan to light yellow.

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Pellaea is a genus of ferns in the Cheilanthoideae subfamily of the Pteridaceae.[2] The genus name is derived from the Greek word πελλος (pellos), meaning "dark," and refers to the bluish-gray stems.[3] Members of the genus are commonly known as cliffbrakes.[4] They primarily grow in rocky habitats, including moist rocky canyons, slopes, and bluffs.[3]



They are most abundant and diverse in the southwestern United States south into Andean South America, central and southern Africa, and eastern Australia to New Zealand.


They typically have creeping rhizomes and pinnately to bipinnately compound leaves lacking prominent scales or trichomes on the blades. Like most members of Pteridaceae, they have marginal sori protected by a false indusium formed from the reflexed leaf margin.

The distinction of Pellaea from the typically hairier or scalier Cheilanthes has proven difficult, with some members (e.g., the African P. viridis) being of uncertain affinity, listed by different authors in both genera. Furthermore, Pellaea contains a number of sections that may warrant generic status since they appear to represent convergence in phenotypes related to arid habitats rather than similarity due to common descent. These sections are:

  • Pellaea section Pellaea: includes most American members of the genus as well as a single African member (P. rufa);
  • Pellaea section Ormopteris: includes three or four South American species in or near Brazil;
  • Pellaea section Platyloma: includes the Australian and New Zealand species;
  • Pellaea section Holcochlaena: includes the African species.

Members of the genus are not generally used for any commercial purpose, although several species (most notably P. rotundifolia and P. falcata of section Platyloma) are cultivated as indoor plants.



  1. ^ a b "Genus: Pellaea Link". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-10-05. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/genus.pl?13106. Retrieved 2011-11-05.
  2. ^ Christenhusz, Maarten J. M.; Zhang, Xian-Chun; Schneider, Harald (18 February 2011). "A linear sequence of extant families and genera of lycophytes and ferns". Phytotaxa 19: 7–54. ISSN 1179-3163. http://www.mapress.com/phytotaxa/content/2011/f/pt00019p054.pdf.
  3. ^ a b Windham, Michael D.. "Pellaea Link, Fil. Spec. 59. 1841.". Flora of North America. eFloras.org. http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=124283. Retrieved 2011-11-05.
  4. ^ a b "Pellaea". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=17639. Retrieved 2011-11-05.
  5. ^ "GRIN Species Records of Pellaea". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/splist.pl?13106. Retrieved 2011-11-05.
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