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

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Ch.Is.: trees on plateau, Feb. 1898, C.W.Andrews (BM); Flying Fish Cove, 4 May 1898, C.W.Andrews (BM).

This species is also widely, but incorrectly known as Gonocormus minutus (Blume) Bosch (Trichomanes minutus Blume).


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

Terrestrial ferns; rhizome erect or creeping, with scales and/or hairs. Stipe dark-coloured, often shining. Fronds simple or 1- to 5-pinnate or -pedate; veins free or anastomosing, without free veinlets. Sori marginal, without indusia, often protected by a reflexed flap of the laminal margin, terminal on veins or spreading along them; paraphyses present.

A cosmopolitan family containing a variable number of genera according to the classification followed. Sometimes treated as monogeneric, but here including Pityrogramma, which occurs on Christmas Is.


Handbuch 3: 19(1833)
from the Greek pityron (bran, chaff) and gramma (an inscription), probably referring to the powdery indumentum and naked sporangia on the undersurface of the frond, which leaves an outline of the frond when pressed on to a surface

Type: P. chrysophylla (Sw.) Link

Terrestrial ferns; rhizome erect, usually with a crown of fronds; scales narrow, entire, present on rhizome and stipe bases. Stipe usually grooved above, dark-coloured; vascular strands usually 2. Fronds 1–3-pinnatisect, the pinnae becoming gradually smaller towards the apex and finally reduced to lobes, usually floury beneath, rarely pubescent or glabrous; rachis grooved; lobes narrowly decurrent; veins all free. Sporangia on veins beneath, sometimes ±covering undersurface of frond; indusia absent; paraphyses absent.

A genus of c. 16 species, from tropical America, Africa and Madagascar. A few species are widely naturalised throughout the tropics, including 1 species on Christmas Is. They occur on disturbed ground such as landslides, gravel bars in streams, rocks and cliffs and in open woodland and grassland. They prefer open, damp situations, but some species will tolerate short, dry periods.

R.Tryon, Taxonomic Fern Notes, 2. Pityrogramma (including Trismeria) and Anogramma, Contr. Gray Herb. 189: 52–76 (1962); G.Panigrahi, The genus Pityrogramma (Hemionitidaceae) in Asia, Kew Bull. 30: 657–667 (1975); R.E.Holttum, Fl. Malaya (Ferns) 2nd edn, 2: 592–594 (1968); D.L.Jones & S.C. Clemesha, Austral. Ferns & Fern Allies 2nd edn, 213 (1981); R.M.Tryon & A.F.Tryon, Ferns & Allied Pl. 216–223 (1982).

calomelanos(L.) Link
Handbuch 3: 20(1833)

Pityrogramma calomelanos
(L.) Linkcalomelanos

Acrostichum calomelanos L., Sp. Pl. 2: 1072 (1753).T: America, Herb. C.Linnaeus 1245.19; syn: LINN. Epithet from the Greek kalos (beautiful) and melanos (black, dark), descriptive of the black stipe and rachis which contrast with the white undersurface of the frond.

Illustration: D.L.Jones, Encycl. Ferns 383 (1987).

Terrestrial fern; rhizome short, erect; scales 3–4 mm long, narrow, brown; fronds in a crown. Stipe usually 3–20 cm long, slender, wiry, grooved, dark purple-brown, glossy. Fronds erect, usually bipinnatisect, c. 6–30 cm long, densely white-floury beneath; pinnae longest in basal half of frond, to 10 cm long, deeply pinnatisect, sometimes with a few shortly stalked pinnules at base, somewhat coriaceous, shortly stalked; lobes incised almost to rachis, with veins free and much-branched, ovate to oblong, acute, serrulate, decurrent on rachis forming a narrow wing. Sporangia covering undersurface of pinnae; indusium absent.

Silver Fern.

Christmas Is. Introduced, now fairly common, mainly on the plateau, in clearings and along roadsides in the primary forest, and in mixed areas where it has some shade provided by rock pinnacles and other plants. Originally from tropical America, this species has become commonly naturalised throughout the tropics, including Christmas Is. and Australia (Qld).

Ch.Is.: Phosphate Hill quarries, C.W.Andrews 205 (BM); Rocky Point, D.A.Powell 111 (K); quarry, D.A.Powell 510 (K); roadside clearing, E of Stewart Hill, D.J. & B.P.Du Puy C1 32 (CBG, K).

This species was already present on Christmas Is. at the end of the 19th century, when it was collected by C.W.Andrews, although it was subsequently omitted from his account of the vegetation.

The finely divided, lacy fronds, white-floury beneath, and the dark, glossy stipes make this an attractive species. It is readily cultivated if given sufficient light, and is not overwatered.

Var. calomelanos is distinguished by its silvery white to pale yellow, resinous indumentum. In specimens larger than those observed on Christmas Is., the fronds can reach up to 60 cm long and are more divided, becoming bipinnate, with lobed pinnules.


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

Plants epiphytic. Rhizome usually short, creeping, with narrow, latticed scales. Fronds simple, entire, linear-ovate to obovate; veins reticulate, forming elongate areolae, without free veinlets. Sori elongate, along veins, usually submarginal or marginal; exindusiate, but often in a groove, when young protected by paraphyses.

A tropical family of 7–9 genera; 1 genus on Christmas Is.


Mem. Acad. Sci. Turin 5: 413, t. 9(1753)
from the Latin vitta (a ribbon, ceremonial headband), referring to the narrow, ribbon-like leaves

Type: V. lineata (L.) Sm.

Epiphytic, lithophytic or rarely terrestrial ferns; rhizome creeping, densely scaly; roots densely hairy; scales latticed, with a hair-like apex. Stipe usually narrowly winged, with 2 vascular strands. Fronds usually pendulous, ribbon-like, linear to narrowly elliptic, entire, ±coriaceous; venation indistinct, consisting of a midvein with oblique lateral veins which unite into 2 marginal veins. Sori linear, in 2 longitudinal, marginal or submarginal grooves; paraphyses abundant, usually club-shaped.

A genus of c. 50–70 species, mainly tropical but extending into warm-temperate regions; 1 species on Christmas Is. They mainly occur in damp, shaded habitats. The similarity in frond shape, sori and habit make the species difficult to distinguish, and a full taxonomic revision is necessary.

R.C.Ching, The studies of Chinese ferns, 6. Genus Vittaria of China and Sikkim-Himalaya, Sinensia 1: 175–192 (1931); R.E.Holttum, Fl. Malaya (Ferns) 2nd edn, 2: 607–614 (1968); D.L.Jones & S.C.Clemesha, Austral. Ferns & Fern Allies 2nd edn, 211–212 (1981); R.M.Tryon & A.F.Tryon, Ferns & Allied Pl. 362–368 (1982).

Syn. Fil. 109, 302(1806)

T: India, J.P.Rottler; n.v. Epithet is the Latin for long or extended, descriptive of the long, narrow fronds.

Illustrations: D.L.Jones & S.C.Clemesha, Austral. Ferns & Fern Allies 2nd edn, t. 33 (1981); D.L.Jones, Encycl. Ferns 384 (1987).

Epiphytic, clump-forming fern; rhizome with several scattered fronds, and ginger-felty roots; scales dense, c. 5–7 mm long, very slender, latticed, the apex hair-like, very dark brown. Stipe wings gradually broadening into the narrow frond. Fronds pendulous, linear, 25–90 cm long, 0.5–1 cm wide, usually dry and lacerated at apex, glabrous, thinly coriaceous, dark geen, glossy; midvein only apparent. Sori linear, enclosed in narrow grooves extending along margins of frond; paraphyses club-shaped.

Tape Fern.

Christmas Is. Common in the rainforest, mainly on the plateau and upper terraces, usually growing from the root mass of other epiphytic ferns such as Asplenium nidus, and may form large, attractive clumps of narrow, pendulous fronds. A widely distributed species in the Old World tropics and subtropics, from Africa, India and S China, through Indo-China, the Philippines, and Malesia to Australia (Qld, N.S.W.) and the Pacific islands (Polynesia).

Ch.Is.: no precise locality, C.W.Andrews 163 (K); plateau, H.N.Ridley 160 (K); Headridge Hill, B.Molesworth Allen P9 (K); in forest at edge of National Park, central plateau, R.Shivas 958 (PERTH); S of Field 22 South, on fallen branch in tall rainforest, D.J. & B.P.Du Puy CI6 (CBG, K).

H.N.Ridley, J. Straits Branch Roy. Asiat. Soc. 45: 247 (1906), noted that the variant on Christmas Is. is particularly large. Its fronds are very long and narrow, resembling those of C. zosterifolium Bory, see R.C.Ching, op. cit. 176, 179. However, R.E.Holttum, op. cit. 614, indicated that the variation present in Malaya, which includes variants similar to those on Christmas Is., does not allow the separation of distinct species.


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

Terrestrial ferns. Rhizome erect or creeping, scaly. Fronds usually uniform, 1- to 4-pinnate; veins free or less frequently anastomosing. Sori often marginal, without indusia or with a false indusium forming a scarious leaf margin; paraphyses often present.

A worldwide family variously interpreted as containing from 3 to 7 genera; 1 genus on Christmas Is. The family is closely related to the Adiantaceae.


Sp. Pl. 2: 1073(1753)
Gen. Pl. 5th edn, 484 (1754); from the Greek pteron (a wing, feather) which may have been used descriptively, but which was also the Greek name for certain types of fern

Type: P. longifolia L.

Terrestrial ferns; rhizome erect or creeping, often with an apical tuft of fronds; scales various, always present on rhizome and stipe base. Stipe grooved above; vascular strand U-shaped in section. Fronds pinnate to tripinnate, occasionally tripartite; basal pair of pinnae tending to be branched, or with more complex division than the others; apical pinna subequal to the lateral ones; rachis and costae grooved; veins all free, or some anastomosing and forming areolae, connected by marginal veins above the sori in fertile frond. Sori linear, submarginal; indusium formed from the thin, reflexed margin of the lamina; paraphyses often numerous.


A large genus containing c. 250 species. They are mainly tropical and subtropical, with a few species occurring in temperate regions; 2 species of Pteris on Christmas Is. They bear little resemblance to each other, but can be recognised as members of this genus by their linear sori on the margins of the fronds, covered by an indusium which is a flap attached at the margin of the fronds and opening inwards. This is an important genus in commercial fern cultivation.

R.E.Holttum, Fl. Malaya (Ferns) 2nd edn, 2: 393–409 (1968); D.L.Jones & S.C.Clemesha, Austral. Ferns & Fern Allies 2nd edn, 192–197 (1981); R.M.Tryon & A.F.Tryon, Ferns & Allied Pl. 332–341 (1982).

Fronds pinnate; pinnae simple; stipe usually 2–15 cm long

1. P. vittata

Fronds divided into 5–9 subsimilar laminae, each lamina bipinnatisect; pinnae pinnatisect; stipe usually 50–150 cm long

2. P. tripartita

Sp. Pl. 2: 1074(1753)

T: China, P.Osbeck, herb. C.Linnaeus 1246.3; lecto: LINN, fide R.Tryon, Contr. Gray Herb. 194: 191 (1964). Epithet from the Latin vitta (a ribbon, ceremonial headband), alluding to the narrow, linear pinnae.

Illustrations: D.L.Jones & S.C.Clemesha, Austral. Ferns & Fern Allies 2nd edn, 196, fig. 269 (1981); D.L.Jones, Encycl. Ferns 273 (1987).

Terrestrial or lithophytic fern; rhizome shortly creeping; scales numerous, conspicuous, c. 5 mm long, narrow, ginger-brown; fronds appearing to radiate from a crown. Stipe usually c. 2–15 cm long, grooved, scaly towards base. Fronds arching, very variable in size, c. 20–80 cm long, pinnate; terminal pinna resembling the others or sometimes rather longer, glabrous; pinnae numerous, closely spaced, longest towards frond apex, becoming much reduced at base, narrow, linear, 1–25 cm long, gradually tapering, finely serrate in sterile zones, cordate and sometimes oblique at base, coriaceous, dark green, sessile. Sori linear, marginal; indusial flap recurved from margin.

Ladder Brake, Chinese Brake.

Christmas Is. Common in exposed situations in disturbed sites such as old quarries where the soil is poor or replaced by limestone rubble or bare rock, and on road cuttings. A common, tropical to warm-temperate, Old World species, distributed through Malesia to Australia, and sometimes naturalised in the New World.

Ch.Is.: no precise locality, D.A.Powell 293 (K); roadside cutting on Irvine Hill Road, D.J. & B.P.Du Puy CI5 (CBG, K); old mine site, 0.5 km N of airport, R.Shivas 938 (PERTH).

Very variable in size, with specimens producing fertile fronds in particularly harsh situations. It is cultivated as an ornamental garden or pot-plant, requiring some limestone in the compost, but is otherwise easily grown.

J. Bot. (Schrader) 1800(2):
67 (1801)

T: Java, C.P.Thunberg, herb. Thunberg 24968, 24969; n.v. Epithet from the Latin tri- (three-) and partire (to divide), in reference to the frond which has 2 basal branches, each of those side-branches dividing again, giving a 5-branched frond (in large fronds often further divided).

[P. quadriaurita auct. non Retz. (1791): H.N.Ridley, J. Straits Branch Roy. Asiat. Soc. 45: 245 (1906)]

Illustrations: D.L.Jones & S.C.Clemesha, Austral. Ferns & Ferns Allies 2nd edn, 195, fig. 267 (1981); D.L.Jones, Encycl. Ferns 273 (1987).

Large, terrestrial fern; rhizome short, erect, stout; scales small, pale brown; fronds; 1–few. Stipe erect, very long, often 50–150 cm, robust, grooved, with scattered basal scales. Fronds very large, ±circular in outline, saucer-shaped, c. 1 m diam., glabrous, divided into 5–9 subsimilar, radiating laminas, each lamina bipinnatisect, the central lamina largest; pinnae to 15 cm long, pinnatisect, herbaceous, shortly stalked, the veinlets forming elongated areolae along the midvein; lobes slightly falcate, rounded, serrulate, separated by rounded sinuses. Sori linear, marginal, broken both at lobe apices and sinuses; indusial flap recurved from margin.

Giant Brake.

Christmas Is. H.N.Ridley (loc. cit.) recorded that this species had recently appeared around Settlement and the Waterfall Road. It is now quite frequent over much of the plateau and upper terraces, where it occurs in damp, semi-shaded positions, most frequently along tracks and drill-lines through the primary rainforest. A variable, Old World species, distributed from tropical Africa, Madagascar and SE Asia through Indo-China and Malesia to Australia (Qld) and the Pacific islands, and occasionally naturalised in the New World.

Ch.Is.: no precise locality, H.N.Ridley 178 (K); Harrison Springs, Ross Hill terrace, D.A.Powell 125 (K).

The tendency for the fronds in this genus to have a branched lower pinna is taken to an extreme in this species. The side portions of the frond are often only slightly smaller than the central portion. These subequal frond portions radiate from near the centre of the frond, giving a large, dish-shaped structure.

This handsome species is a frequent coloniser of disturbed sites in the tropics. In poor, dry conditions, smaller specimens than those described above can be fertile.


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

Epiphytic or sometimes terrestrial ferns; rhizome creeping, rarely erect, with peltate, latticed or non-latticed scales; stipes usually articulate on rhizome. Fronds simple, lobed, dichotomously branched or pinnate, uniform or dimorphic, often clothed with peltate or stellate hairs; veins usually reticulate with free, included veinlets. Sori superficial or somewhat immersed, spread over lamina surface or sometimes confluent; paraphyses often present; without indusia.

A family of about 1000 species, found throughout the world, but mostly tropical and subtropical; 3 genera on Christmas Is.


1 Fronds mostly pinnately lobed; sori large, c. 2.5–4 mm diam., mostly in single rows on either side of midveins of lobes


1: Fronds simple; sori smaller, not arranged as above

2 Fronds thick, leathery, c. 5–20 cm long, covered beneath by minute, stellate hairs; fertile fronds covered beneath by confluent sori in apical portion


2: Fronds not thick and leathery, more than 20 cm long, glabrous; sori not as above

3 Stipe 10–50 cm long; fronds dimorphic, the fertile fronds linear, acrostichoid, with sporangia densely covering undersurface


3: Stipe very short, often ±absent; fronds not dimorphic, the sori scattered in apical half



Enum. Filic. 147(1824)
from the Greek leptus (narrow, slender) and chilus (a lip), perhaps after the shape of the fertile frond which resembles a pair of narrow lips

Type: L. axillaris (Cav.) Kaulf.

Terrestrial or lithophytic ferns, sometimes climbing; rhizome short- to long-creeping; scales on rhizome and stipe base, small, minutely latticed, peltate; fronds closely to distantly spaced along rhizome. Stipe slightly grooved above; vascular strand broadly U-shaped in section. Fronds simple, entire, articulate on rhizome, dimorphic. Sterile frond oblong to elliptic, the base narrowly decurrent on stipe; midvein and lateral veins pinnate, with anastomosing veinlets between, forming areolae. Fertile frond reduced, very narrow; sporangia acrostichoid, densely covering lamina beneath; indusium and paraphyses absent.

A genus of c. 12 species distributed from SE Asia, through Malesia, to the western Pacific islands; 1 species on Christmas Is. They are usually forest-dwelling species, favouring damp, shaded habitats, sometimes climbing on tree trunks.

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