Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn
subsp. capense (Thunb.) C.Chr.

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Pteridium aquilinum subsp. capense

Photo: Petra Ballings
Mt. Gorongosa, grassland plateau

Pteridium aquilinum subsp. capense

Photo: Bart Wursten
Along footpath from Muwawa to Zomba

Pteridium aquilinum subsp. capense

Photo: Petra Ballings
Small valley North-east of Mt Binga, Chimanimani Mts

Pteridium aquilinum subsp. capense

Photo: Petra Ballings
Small valley North-east of Mt Binga, Chimanimani Mts

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Species details: Click on each item to see an explanation of that item (Note: opens a new window)

Synonyms: Allosorus capensis (Thunb.) Pappe & Rawson
Allosorus coriifolius (Kunze) Pappe & Rawson
Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn var. lanuginosum (Willd.) Kuhn
Pteris capensis Thunb.
Pteris coriifolia Kunze
Common names: Bracken (English)
Frequency: Locally abundant
Status: Native
Rhizome widely creeping, subterranean, 5-10 mm in diameter; scales brown, very fine, up to 1 mm long. Fronds widely spaced, stiff, hard, erect, pubescent fronds, 0.5-1.75 m tall, often forming large, dominant colonies in suitable habitats. Stipe up to 0.5 m long, underground portion swollen and covered with fine, brown hairs, above-ground portion pale-green, glabrous. Lamina 3-pinnatifid to 4-pinnate, triangular in outline. Pinnae standing out from the rhachis horizontally at nearly right angles; basal pinnae half as long as the frond; pinnae in the upper half 3-pinnatifid. Pinnules deeply incised, joined to the costules, with apices that are not long and narrow. Sori linear, continuous, situated just inside the inrolled margins; pseudo-indusium continuous.
Notes: The rhizomes of this fern are fire resistant and after periods of frost or drought, the dried, brittle fronds may persist for some time. New fronds will develop soon after the start of the rains, showing the typical "fiddleheads" of the unfolding fronds. It forms extensive colonies.
Derivation of specific name: aquilinum: of an eagle; either because the spreading pinnae resemble the wings of an aegle or a reference to the shape of the vascular bundle in the stipe.
capense: of the Cape
Habitat: In open scrub, forest edges and grassland, confined to higher rainfall areas.
Altitude range: Up to 2000 m
Worldwide distribution: This subspecies is widespread in tropical Africa & South Africa, also in Madagascar, Mauritius and RĂ©union. The species as a whole is one of the most cosmopolitan fern species.
Mozambique distribution: N,Z,T,MS,GI,M
Growth form(s): Terrestrial.
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Content last updated: Friday 28 March 2014

Burrows, J.E. (1990). Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 103 - 104. under subsp. aquilinum (Includes a picture).

Burrows, J.E. & Willis, C.K. (eds) (2005). Plants of the Nyika Plateau Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 31 SABONET, Pretoria Page 28. as Pteridium aquilinum aquilinum

Chapano, C. & Mamuto, M. (2003). Plants of the Chimanimani District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 46. As Pteridium aquilinum aquilinum

Chapano, C. & Mugarisanwa, N.H. (2003). Plants of the Matobo District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 30. As Pteridium aquilinum aquilinum

Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011). Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide Struik Nature Pages 284 - 285. (Includes a picture).

Da Silva, M.C., Izidine, S. & Amude, A.B. (2004). A preliminary checklist of the vascular plants of Mozambique. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 30 Sabonet, Pretoria Page 10. as Pteridium aquilinum aquilinum

Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983). The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 208 - 209. described under subsp. aquilinum (Includes a picture).

Kornas, J. (1979). Distribution and ecology of the Pteridophytes in Zambia Polska Akademia Nauk Wydzial II Nauk Biologicznych Pages 82 - 83. Under subsp. aquilinum

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 6. under subsp. aquilinum

Roux, J.P. (2001). Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report 13 Pages 89 - 90. under subsp. aquilinum (Includes a picture).

Roux, J.P. (2009). Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands Page 112.

Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970). Pteridophyta Flora Zambesiaca Pages 88 - 89. under subsp. aquilinum

Timberlake, J.R., Bayliss, J., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Congdon, C., Branch, B., Collins, S., Curran, M., Dowsett, R,J., Fishpool, L., Francisco, J., Harris, Kopp, M. & de Sousa, C. (2012). Mt Mabu, Mozambique: Biodiversity and Conservation Report produced under the Darwin Initiative Award 15/036. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London Page 71.

Wursten, B., Timberlake, J. & Darbyshire, I. (2017). The Chimanimani Mountains: an updated checklist. Kirkia 19(1) Page 78.

Other sources of information about Pteridium aquilinum subsp. capense:

Our websites:

Flora of Malawi: Pteridium aquilinum subsp. capense
Flora of Zambia: Pteridium aquilinum subsp. capense
Flora of Zimbabwe: Pteridium aquilinum subsp. capense

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Pteridium aquilinum
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Pteridium aquilinum
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Pteridium aquilinum
ePIC (electronic Plant Information Center): Pteridium aquilinum
Flora Zambesiaca web site: Pteridium aquilinum
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Pteridium aquilinum
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
GRIN (Germplasm Resources Information Network): Pteridium aquilinum
iNaturalist: Pteridium aquilinum
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Pteridium aquilinum
JSTOR Plant Science: Pteridium aquilinum
Kew Herbarium catalogue: Pteridium aquilinum
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Pteridium aquilinum
Plants of the World Online: Pteridium aquilinum
Tropicos: Pteridium aquilinum
Wikipedia: Pteridium aquilinum

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave 2007-22

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2022). Flora of Mozambique: Species information: Pteridium aquilinum subsp. capense., retrieved 25 September 2022

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