Asplenium aethiopicum (Burm. f.) Bech.[Agg]

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Asplenium aethiopicum

Photo: Petra Ballings
Crossing Musapa Pequeno, road to Chikukwa

Asplenium aethiopicum

Photo: Petra Ballings
Northern slopes below Mt Dombe, Chimanimani Mts

Asplenium aethiopicum

Photo: Petra Ballings
Northern slopes below Mt Dombe, Chimanimani Mts

Asplenium aethiopicum

Photo: Petra Ballings
Northern slopes below Mt Dombe, Chimanimani Mts

Asplenium aethiopicum

Photo: Petra Ballings
Higher slopes of Mt Nhamudimu, Chimanimani Mts

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Synonyms: Asplenium adiantoides Lam.
Asplenium furcatum Thunb.
Asplenium gueinzianum Mett. ex Kuhn
Asplenium praemorsum sensu Sim
Asplenium schelpei Braithwaite
Trichomanes aethiopicum Burm.f.
Common names:
Status: Native
Rhizome creeping or ascending, up to 7 mm thick. Rhizome scales 3-7 mm long, linear-attenuate, light-dark brown to blackish, entire or with a few hair-like outgrowths, ending in hair-point. Fronds tufted. Stipe 8-40 cm long, dark brown, covered with hair-like scales when young, subglabrous with age. Lamina very variable in size, shape and degree of dissection, 12-64 cm × 3.7-27 cm, strongly 2-pinnatifid to 3-pinnate, ovate to narrowly lanceolate in outline with the basal pair or 2 of pinnae usually reduced in size. Pinnae ovate to narrowly lanceolate, apex acute, sometimes drawn out into a thin, narrow terminal segment; margins irregularly toothed. Pinnules upper surface subglabrous, lower surface sparsely set with twisted scales. Sori linear, 3-14 mm long, set along flabellate veins, sori more than one per lobe, indusiate.
Notes: The extreme variability of this species makes it difficult to distinguish it from others in this group. A. aethiopicum has recently been split up in 4 subsp.(J.P.Roux,2001): subsp.aethiopicum, subsp.dodecaploideum ,subsp. filare and subsp. tripinnatum . We have lumped these for the time being. These subspecies usually grade from one to the other and are hard to distinguish without a strong microscope to examen the spores.
Derivation of specific name: aethiopicum: of Ethiopia, a historic name for large parts of Africa
Habitat: Wide variety of habitats, deciduous woodland, high altitude mist forest, riverine forest, evergreen coastal forest. Terrestrial, epiphytic or lithophytic.
Altitude range: Up to 2140 m
Worldwide distribution: Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Eswatini, Zambia, Zimbabwe, tropical and subtropical Africa, Comoro islands, Mauritius, Madagascar
Mozambique distribution: N,Z,T,MS
Growth form(s): Epiphyte, lithophyte, terrestrial.
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Content last updated: Sunday 25 September 2011

Burrows, J.E. (1990). Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 246 - 248. (Includes a picture).

Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (1993). An annotated check-list of the pteridophytes of Malawi Kirkia 14(1) Page 93.

Chapano, C. & Mugarisanwa, N.H. (2003). Plants of the Matobo District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 5.

Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011). Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide Struik Nature Pages 646 - 649. (Includes a picture).

Dowsett-Lemaire, F. (1989). The flora and phytogeography of the evergreen forests of Malawi. I: Afromontane and mid-altitude forests; Bull. Jard. Bot. Nat. Belg. 59(1/2) Page 26.

Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983). The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 361 - 362. (Includes a picture).

Kornas, J. (1979). Distribution and ecology of the Pteridophytes in Zambia Polska Akademia Nauk Wydzial II Nauk Biologicznych Pages 94 - 95.

Roux, J.P. (2001). Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report 13 Page 160.

Roux, J.P. (2009). Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands Pages 76 - 77.

Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970). Pteridophyta Flora Zambesiaca Pages 181 - 182.

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

Other sources of information about Asplenium aethiopicum:

Our websites:

Flora of Malawi: Asplenium aethiopicum
Flora of Zambia: Asplenium aethiopicum
Flora of Zimbabwe: Asplenium aethiopicum

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Asplenium aethiopicum
African Plant Database: Asplenium aethiopicum
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Asplenium aethiopicum
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Asplenium aethiopicum
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Asplenium aethiopicum
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iNaturalist: Asplenium aethiopicum
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Asplenium aethiopicum
JSTOR Plant Science: Asplenium aethiopicum
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Asplenium aethiopicum
Plants of the World Online: Asplenium aethiopicum
Tropicos: Asplenium aethiopicum
Wikipedia: Asplenium aethiopicum

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave 2007-23

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2023). Flora of Mozambique: Species information: Asplenium aethiopicum., retrieved 3 October 2023

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