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  1. Family: Aspleniaceae Newman
    1. Genus: Asplenium L.
      1. Asplenium rutifolium (P.J.Bergius) Kunze

        This species is accepted, and its native range is Kenya to S. Africa, W. Indian Ocean, Yemen.


    Aspleniaceae, Henk Beentje. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 2008

    Rachis narrowly winged or ridged laterally, pale brown when dry with occasional minute dark brown ovate scales. Sori 1 per pinna lobe, ellipsoid, borne halfway along the length of the lobe or slightly higher and reaching from the costule to or beyond the margin, facing towards the pinna apex, 1.3–3.5 mm in our area, elsewhere 0.8–5 mm long; indusium oblong, membranous, entire, to 0.8 mm wide.
    Fig. 9: 5–6, p. 54.
    Epiphyte (high, medium and low), lithophyte or terrestrial, in moist and dry evergreen forest, riverine forest; 750–2100(–2300) m
    Widespread; least concern (LC)
    There are a whole range of problem specimens falling in between rutifolium and loxoscaphoides, with a worrying variability of rhizome scales – narrow ones about 1 mm wide, with a dark brown middle part and a thin pale brown margin are usual for rutifolium; wider ones, up to 2.5 mm wide, with a narrow dark brown central part and a wide pale brown margin, occur in specimens from northern Tanzania and Kenya, e.g. Beesley 10! from Kilimanjaro and Archbold 970! from the same area. This form of rhizome scale is often, but not always, linked to longer stipes, of up to 25 cm. Confusingly, in this same area ‘normal’ rutifolium specimens with the narrower scales are also common. It is possible that specimens with narrow pale margins and a rather broad dark centre are linked to a moist forest habitat. I believe there are some differences, as per the key (rhizome scales being the most clear; plus some relative sizes) but the two taxa are close. A. strangeanum agrees completely with A. rutifolium – as does the illustration with the protologue. The only differences seem to be slightly longer rhizome scales. The author did not compare it to rutifolium, but only to A. borbonicum – which does not occur in East Africa. H.D. van Someren 102 from Kenya K 7, Shimba Hills, is sterile but looks like this species – it would be a low altitude, but the specific altitude is not given on the label. Burrows has re-united var. bipinnatum with the typical variety, due to the presence of intermediates. I am happy to follow him.
    Type: South Africa, Cape of Good Hope, Thunberg s.n. (SBT, holo.)
    Lithophyte, epiphyte or terrestrial.
    Rhizome erect, to 50 mm long and to 25 mm diameter, with dark brown lanceolate to narrowly ovate acute rhizome scales 4–9 × 0.8–1.2(–2.2) mm with or without narrow pale borders, subentire or sometimes with a few hair-like lobes.
    Fronds tufted (once described as rhizome shortly creeping, fronds shortly spaced, Faden 69/327), usually stiffly erect, not proliferous.
    Stipe brown abaxially, green adaxially, 3–20 cm long, either with scattered scales to 3 × 1.3 mm with dark brown midpart and broad pale margins or glabrous except for scattered minute dark brown ovate acuminate scales, becoming glabrous with age.
    Leaf lamina
    Lamina ovate to narrowly oblong in outline, 7–40 × 3–10(–12) cm, thinly to thickly coriaceous, 2-pinnatisect to 3-pinnatisect, with basal pinnae hardly or not reduced, apex gradually decrescent.
    Pinna 13–28 pairs, oblong and attenuate or obtuse, the largest 3–7 × 0–7–1.3(–1.7) cm, shortly stalked, deeply pinnatifid into mostly linear or very narrowly spatulate segments set at 45°, 3.5–8 × 0.6–1.2 mm (up to 2 mm across sori) but with the acroscopic basal segment often 2–9-lobed, often with some of the basal segments 2-fid to 2-lobed, apices obtuse, basiscopic base sub-dimidiate, glabrous on both surfaces except for occasional minute dark narrowly ovate scales.
    Range: Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Madagascar, Mascarene Is Range: Yemen Flora districts: U2 U3 K1 K3 K4 K5 K6 K7 T1 T2 T3 T4 T6 T7 T8



    Native to:

    Cape Provinces, Comoros, Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Northern Provinces, Rwanda, Réunion, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen, Zimbabwe


    Other Data

    Asplenium rutifolium (P.J.Bergius) Kunze appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    La Croix, I.F. [5014B], Congo K000501426
    Timberlake, J. [5004], Mozambique K000613383
    Telfair, C. [Cat. no. 238], Mauritius Caenopteris furcata K001109604


    First published in Linnaea 10: 52 (1836)

    Accepted by

    • Roskov Y. & al. (eds.) (2018). World Ferns: Checklist of Ferns and Lycophytes of the World Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life Naturalis, Leiden, the Netherlands.
    • Roux, J.P. (2016). The Lycopods and Ferns of Drakensberg and Lesotho: 1-384. Briza academic books, Pretoria, South Africa.


    Flora of Tropical East Africa

    • Johns, Pterid. trop. East Africa checklist: 67 (1991).
    • Burrows, S. Afr. Ferns: 236, map, figs. (1990)
    • Schelpe, F.Z. Pteridophyta: 185 (1970)
    • Linnaea, 10: 521 (1836), as rutaefolium


    Flora of Tropical East Africa
    Flora of Tropical East Africa

    Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
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    Kew Backbone Distributions
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2020. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2020. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.