P. S. Green Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, tw9 3AB, England

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nudum(L.) P.Beauv.
Prodr. Aetheogam. 112(1805)

Lycopodium nudum L., Sp. Pl. 2: 1100 (1753).T: without locality, herb. C.Linnaeus 1257.1; syn: LINN. Epithet is the Latin word for naked, descriptive of the apparently leafless stems and unprotected fruits.

Illustrations: D.L.Jones & S.C.Clemesha, Austral. Ferns & Fern Allies 2nd edn, 28, fig. 12 (1981); D.L.Jones, Encycl. Ferns 45, 49 (1987).

Herb, c. 20–40 cm tall, clump-forming, usually terrestrial; rhizome subterranean, creeping, attached by many fine, rhizoidal hairs. Aerial shoots wiry, usually erect, unbranched in the basal half, repeatedly dichotomously branched immediately below the apical fertile branchlets, strongly 3-ridged, green becoming yellow and eventually brown; scales spirally arranged, distant, to 3 mm long, acute. Synangium subtended by a pairs of scales, sessile, strongly 3-lobed, c. 2–3 mm diam., yellow, dehiscing through 3 radiating slits. Spores numerous, hyaline.

Skeleton Fork-Fern.

Christmas Is. Common in quarries on Christmas Is., especially in the South Point and Phosphate Hill areas. It grows in full sun on limestone or limestone gravel mixed with poor phosphatic soil, protected only by the limestone pinnacles and the other low ferns which colonise this inhospitable type of habitat. Found rarely as a forest epiphyte in association with large ferns. A widely distributed species in the tropics and subtropics, occurring as far north as Florida, Spain, Hawaii and Japan, and south to New Zealand and Australia (W.A., N.T., Qld, N.S.W., Vic.).

Ch.Is.: no precise locality, D.A.Powell 286 (BO, K, L); SE of Stewart Hill, Field 22 south, D.J. & B.P.Du Puy CI69 (CBG, K).

The shoots are reputed to have laxative properties.


D.J.Du PuyRoyal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB, England(Ch.Is.)

Erect or rarely pendulous, terrestrial or epiphytic herbs; rhizome tuberous or creeping. Sterile fronds simple to bipinnate, rarely palmate or dichotomously branched. Fertile fronds in 2 distinct parts, the fertile portion simple and spike-like, or compound, stalked, arising from stipe or from sterile lamina at or near to point of insertion of stipe. Sporangia in marginal rows along axis or branches of fertile portion of frond, sometimes fused into a synangium through transverse or rarely longitudinal slits.

A cosmopolitan family of 3 genera with c. 80 species; 1 genus on Christmas Is. Ophioglossum and Botrychium Sw. are the largest genera, with 1 species in the Old World genus Helminthostachys Kaulf.

This family of ferns is considered primitive, originating before the Jurassic period (c. 210 million years ago), although there is little fossil evidence.

The roots are thick and lack root hairs, relying on a symbiotic mycorrhizal association for nutrient absorption.

R.T.Clausen, A Monograph of the Ophioglossaceae, Mem. Torrey Bot. Club 19: 1–77 (1938); J.H.Wieffering, A preliminary revision of the Indo-Pacific species of Ophio-glossum (Ophioglossaceae), Blumea 12: 321–337 (1964); R.E.Holttum, Fl. Malaya (Ferns) 2nd edn, 2: 38–42 (1968); D.L.Jones & S.C.Clemesha, Austral. Ferns & Fern Allies 2nd edn, 57, 62–63 (1981); R.M.Tryon & F.M.Tryon, Ferns & Allied Pl. 25–39 (1982).


Sp. Pl. 2: 1062(1753)
Gen. Pl. 5th edn, 486 (1754); from the Greek ophis (a snake) and glossa (a tongue), the fertile spike bearing a fancied resemblance to a snake's tongue

Type: O. vulgatum L.

Terrestrial herbs with short, erect fronds and bulbous rhizomes, or epiphytes with long, pendulous fronds arising from a creeping, fleshy rhizome; roots thickened, sometimes with vegetative buds. Fronds solitary to several; sterile lamina simple or rarely dichotomously or palmately divided, with reticulate venation. Fertile spike simple or rarely forked, subcylindrical, stalked, arising at or near base of lamina. Sporangia in 2 rows along apical portion of spike, fused into a thick-walled synangium, dehiscing through transverse slits. Spores numerous.

Adder's Tongue Ferns.

A genus of c. 30 species, with probably 4 species in Australia, 2 of these also on Christmas Is. The variation in this genus is poorly understood, particularly with regard to the terrestrial species, and the genus is in need of a complete taxonomic revision. The epiphytic species are confined to the humid tropics, but the terrestrials are distributed from tropical to polar regions. The latter group are generally found in open situations, in grassland or open woodland, and can be pioneer species on roadsides, quarries and other disturbed land with poor quality soil.

Large, evergreen, epiphytic herb, eventually forming a larger clump; lamina of frond pendulous, ribbon-shaped, to 200 cm long; fertile portion of frond pendulous, much shorter than sterile lamina

1. O. pendulum

Small, deciduous, terrestrial herb, occurring as scattered individuals with 1–3 fronds; lamina of frond erect, rhombic to ovate, to 3 cm long; fertile portion of frond erect, greatly exceeding sterile lamina

2. O. reticulatum

Herb. Amboin. 27(1754)

T: illustration of Scolopendra major, in G.E.Rumphius, Herb. Amboin. 6: t. 37, fig. 3 (1750); fide C.Jarvis, BM, pers. comm. Epithet from the Latin pendere (to hang), descriptive of the pendulous growth habit of this species.

Illustration: D.L.Jones, Encyl. Ferns 346 (1987).

Large, clump-forming, epiphytic herb; rhizome creeping, with 1–several fronds. Fronds pendulous, glabrous, persistent; sterile lamina strap-shaped, to 200 cm long, c. 2–4 cm wide, strap-shaped, sparingly dichotomously branched, undulating, leathery, grey-green, glossy, narrowing basally into a fleshy stipe; fertile spike inserted towards base of lamina, 10–35 cm long, entire or forked, the 2 rows of fused sporangia each c. 2.5 cm diam. Spores pale yellow.

Ribbon Fern.

Christmas Is. Uncommon in tall primary rainforest on the plateau, and in more open forest on the upper terraces around Aldrich Hill; also reported from the lower terraces near Sydneys Dale, where surface water maintains a high humidity. It is a handsome species, forming large clumps of undulating, ribbon-like fronds, usually hanging from beneath large specimens of Asplenium (on Christmas Is.) and Platycerium ferns. Widespread in the Old World humid tropics, occurring from Madagascar, India and Sri Lanka through Indo-China, and Malesia to Australia (Qld, N.S.W.) and the Pacific islands.

Ch.Is.: southern terraces, D.A.Powell 427 (K); on Planchonella nitida, D.A.Powell 556 (K); 1.5 km SW of Aldrich Hill, on Pongamia, D.J. & B.P.Du Puy CI83 (K).

The specimens from Christmas Is. occasionally have forked fronds, which R.E.Holttum, Fl. Malaya (Ferns) 2nd edn, 2: 41 (1968), noted is usually found in specimens from more exposed situations.

Sp. Pl. 2: 1063(1753)

T: illustration by C.Plumier, Filic. Amer. t. 164 (1705); lecto: P, fide G.R.Proctor in R.A.Howard, Fl. Less. Antilles 43 (1977). Epithet from the Latin reticulum (a net), descriptive of the net-like venation in the sterile lamina of the frond.

reticulatumf. complicatum (Miq.) Wieff.
Blumea 12: 330, fig. 1A(1964)

O. moluccanum f. complicatum Miq., Ann. Mus. Bot. Lugduno-Batavum 4: 290 (1868).T: from Megamendong, Java, Zippelius; n.v. Epithet from the Latin complicatus (folded on itself), in reference to the fronds.

Illustrations: J.H.Wieffering, Blumea 12: 325, fig. 1a (1964); D.L.Jones, Encycl. Ferns 58 (1987), as O. petiolatum.

Small, terrestrial herb 4–15 cm tall; rhizome tuberous, subterranean, with 1–3 fronds. Fronds erect, glabrous, deciduous; sterile lamina, rhombic to ovate, 1–3 cm long, 0.5–1.2 cm wide, cuneate at base, obtuse or apiculate, entire, somewhat fleshy, mid-green, narrowing to a slender stipe; fertile spike arising from the lamina base, 2–13 cm long, entire, slender, the 2 rows of fused sporangia each 0.5–1 mm diam. Spores pale yellow.

Adders Tongue Fern.

Fig. 96C.v*****_f*****.jpg

Christmas Is. Occurs in a single locality in an old mine field to the south of Wharton Hill. The plants usually grow in bare soil between other ferns (Psilotum nudum, Davallia denticulata and Nephrolepis hirsutula), in poor soil mainly of limestone and phosphate gravel. This species is probably pantropical, but because of its close resemblance to several other species, the exact distribution is not known.

Ch.Is.: old quarry at South Point, D.A.Powell 285 (K); Field 17, S of Wharton Hill, D.J. & B.P.Du Puy CI81 (CBG, K).

The nomenclature followed here is that of J.H.Wieffering (Blumea 12: 321–337 (1964)), who did not compare her taxa to those occurring in Australia, but gave the distribution of f. complicatum as from India and Japan through Indo-China, the Philippines and Malesia through New Guinea to New Caledonia. This group of small, terrestrial species is inadequately known, and its taxonomy should be completely revised.

The whole plant is edible either raw as a salad, or cooked as a vegetable, although it is not abundant enough on Christmas Is. to consider harvesting.


D.J.DuPuy(Ch.Is.)Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB, EnglandA.E.Orchard(M.Is.)Australian Biological Resources Study, GPO Box 767, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, 2601

Epiphytic or terrestrial ferns of humid places; rhizome slender, wide-creeping or short and suberect. Fronds diverse; lamina membranous, 1 cell thick, without stomata. Sori marginal at vein endings; sporangia on short or elongated receptacles enclosed in tubular or 2-lobed indusia, developing basipetally, sessile, with oblique or horizontal annulus.

Filmy Ferns.

A family with a variable number (2–34) of genera according to the authority followed, but containing about 600 species, most abundant in the wet tropics; 1 species of Gonocormus on Christmas Is. and 1 species of Hymenophyllum on Macquarie Is.


Indusium 2-lipped; fronds 10–20 mm long; epiphytic (M.Is.)


Indusium tubular, entire; fronds 2.5–7 mm long; terrestrial (Ch.Is.)



Mem. Acad. Roy. Soc. (Turin) 5: 418, t. 9(8)(1793)
from the greek hymen (membranous) and phyllon (a leaf), in reference to the semitransparent fronds

Type: H. tunbrigense (L.) Sm.

Small epiphytes, rarely terrestrial or on rocks; rhizomes elongate, thin, wiry, usually freely branching, scabrous. Fronds entire or variously dissected, to multipinnate; stipe and rachis wiry, naked or winged; lamina or pinnae thin, semitransparent with free venation. Sori terminating segments of pinnae; indusium two-lipped, cup-shaped, enclosing the sporangia which are borne on a short stalk-like receptacle.

Filmy Ferns.

An almost cosmopolitan genus of about 300 species, with a major centre of diversity in the northern Andes of S America; c. 30 species in Australia; 1 species on Macquarie Is.

While species of this group are relatively easily recognised, their generic delimitations are less settled. Some authors prefer to recognise the many segregate genera erected by E.B.Copeland, Philipp. J. Sci. 67: 1–110 (1938), while others treat these as subgenera of Hymenophyllum sens. lat.

R.J.Hnatiuk, Hymenophyllum peltatum (Poiret) Desvaux, A new Macquarie Island record. New Zealand J. Bot. 10: 701 (1972); G.R.Copson, An Annotated Atlas of the Vascular Flora of Macquarie Island, ANARE Res. Notes 18: 24 (1984); B.D.Duncan & G.Isaac, Hymenophyllaceae, Ferns & Allied Pl. Victoria, Tasmania & South Australia 81–89 (1986); P.J.Brownsey & J.C.Smith-Dodsworth, Hymenophyllaceae, New Zealand Ferns & Allied Pl. 67–78 (1989).

falklandicumBaker in W.J.Hooker & J.G.Baker
Syn. Fil. 2nd edn, 68(1874)

T: Falkland Islands, Apr.–Sept. 1842, J.D.Hooker & C.Abbott; n.v. Named for the locality of the type collection.

[H. peltatum auct. non (Poir.) Desv.: R.J.Hnatiuk, New Zealand. J. Bot. 10: 701 (1972)]

Illustration: D.M.Moore, Fl. Tierra del Fuego fig. 13 (1983).

Terrestrial; rhizome, slender, creeping, freely branched, naked, deep brown; fronds widely spaced, 2–4 cm long. Stipe almost half length of frond, slender, unwinged, dark brown; rachis similar, very narrowly winged in upper part only. Fronds with lamina bipinnate, broadly oblong, 10–20 mm long, 5–7 mm wide, membranous; pinnae about 10–15, asymetrically divided with secondary pinnae on apical side only; secondary pinnae oblong, truncate, sharply serrate. Sori near frond tip, solitary, inserted on a short segment near base of pinna, brown when mature, 0.8 mm long, 0.65–0.7 mm wide; indusium deeply 2-lipped, slightly wider than segment, elliptic, ovate.

Macquarie Is. Restricted to small populations on the feldmark in the north and central parts of the island. Found from southern S America (western Argentina and Chile) to Falkland, South Georgia, Juan Fernandez and Macquarie Islands.

M.Is.: 2 km SW of Green Gorge Hut, R.D.Seppelt 12312 (AD, HO, MEL); 700 m E of Mt Gwynn, R.D.Seppelt 12467 (HO); Boot Hill, R.D.Seppelt 12760 (HO).

The plant on Macquarie Is. has been treated in the past as H. peltatum. However, it differs from typical H. peltatum in the small frond size, sori solitary on the pinnae, secondary pinnae only 1 or 2 (commonly 3–5 in H. peltatum) and in the restriction of the wing on the rachis to the section between the ultimate 2 or 3 pinnae (in H. peltatum the narrow wing usually extends the full length of the rachis but not onto the stipe). D.M.Moore (1983) recognised plants identical to the Macquarie Is. ones in Fuegia and distinguished them from H. peltatum by the characters above. B.S.Parris & J.P.Croxall, New Zealand J. Bot. 10: 259–266 (1972), discussed dwarfed forms of H. peltatum in N.Z. pointing out that the number of sori per pinna could be reduced to 1, as could the secondary pinnae, but that the wing on the rachis was maintained. The same situation appears to apply in dwarfed H. peltatum from high exposed localities in Tas. Clearly, the H. peltatum complex needs re-examination throughout its wide range (Europe, S America, Australia, New Zealand and the subantarctic), but in the meantime, the Macquarie Is. plants seem best segregated as H. falklandicum.


Hymen. Javan. 7–12(1861)
Verslagen Meded. Afd. Kon. Natuurk. Akad. Wetensch. 11: 321 (1861); from the Greek gonos (progeny) and kormos (Latin cormus - a tree trunk, stalk) in reference to the proliferation in this genus by the development of secondary fronds and new plantlets on the stipes

Type: G. prolifer (Blume) Prantl

Minute, epiphytic or lithophytic, filmy ferns; rhizome filiform, creeping, much-branched; scales absent; fronds scattered along rhizome. Stipe filiform, wiry, sometimes with buds which develop into secondary fronds or plantlets. Fronds ±erect, fan-shaped and deeply palmately lobed, to pinnately lobed, glabrous, very thin, dark green; lobes narrow, 1-veined, without false or anastomosing veins. Sori situated at lobe apices; indusium tubular, flared, the frond lamina longitudinally winged, with a minute, mucronate receptacle which is eventually exserted from the apical aperture; paraphyses absent.

A genus of up to 5 species, at least 2 of which are generally recognised as distinct. Even these two, G. prolifer (Blume) Prantl and G. saxifragoides (C.Presl) Bosch, are not easily separable, although most specimens can be referred to one or the other. They are widespread throughout the range of the genus from Africa, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, India, S China and Japan through Indo-China and Malesia to Australia and the Pacific islands, where they occur in damp, shaded situations on rocks or trees. G. saxifragoides had been recorded from Christmas Is.

The genus is sometimes treated as a section of Trichomanes L. but the nomenclature followed here is that of J.P.Croxall, Austral. J. Bot. 23: 509–547 (1975), which is based on the series of genera originally proposed by E.B.Copeland, Philippine J. Sci. 67: 1–110 (1938).

E.B.Copeland, Genera Hymenophyllacearum, Philippine J. Sci. 67: 1–110, t. 1–11 (1938); W.A.Sledge, The Hymenophyllaceae of Ceylon, J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 60: 289–109 (1968), as Trichomanes; J.P.Croxall, The Hymenophyllaceae of Queensland, Austral. J. Bot. 23: 509–547 (1975).

saxifragoides(C.Presl) Bosch
Hymen. Javan. 9(1861)

Trichomanes saxifragoides C.Presl, Hymen. 16, 39 (1843).T: Ilocos, Luzon, the Philippines, H.Cuming 256; holo: K. Named after the genus Saxifraga L., some species of which have leaves lobed in similar manner to the fronds of this species.

[Trichomanes parvulum auct. non Poir. (1808): C.W.Andrews, Monogr. Christmas Is. 194 (1900)]

Illustration: D.L.Jones & S.C.Clemesha, Austral. Ferns & Fern Allies 2nd edn, 44, fig. 20J (1981).

A minute, epiphytic fern; rhizome thread-like, creeping, much-branched; fronds c. 3–10 mm apart. Stipe c. 2–7 mm long, very slender. Fronds fan-shaped, c. 2.5–7 mm long, c. 4–11 mm wide, deeply palmately lobed, the lobes dichotomously branched or lobed, membranous, dark green, occasionally with a secondary lamina arising from a bud at the frond base. Sori c. 1 mm long, at lobe apices; indusium tubular with a dilated apex, the laminae of the frond lobes forming narrow, longitudinal wings; receptacle eventually protruding from the apical pore as a minute mucro.

Christmas Is. Recorded on trees on the plateau by both C.W.Andrews, Monogr. Christmas Is. 194 (1900), and H.N.Ridley, J. Straits Branch Roy. Asiat. Soc. 45: 245 (1906), but it has not been collected since then. Possibly overlooked due to its small size. A widely distrib-uted, Old World species, occurring from eastern Africa, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, India, southern China and Japan, S through Indo-China, the Philippines, and Malesia to northern Australia (Qld, N.S.W.), the SW Pacific islands (Micronesia and Polynesia) and Hawaii.

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