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  1. Family: Aspleniaceae Newman
    1. Genus: Asplenium L.
      1. Asplenium aethiopicum (Burm.f.) Becherer

        This species is accepted, and its native range is Tropical & Subtropical Old World to Pacific.


    Aspleniaceae, A. H. G. Alston. Flora of West Tropical Africa. Ferns and Fern-Allies Supplement. 1959

    On trees in forest; 3, 000 to 7, 000 ft. alt.

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

    Type: South Africa, Cape, herb. Burmann s.n. (G, holo. fide Burrows; but no type indicated in protologue, so this must be lecto.)
    Epiphyte, lithophyte or occasionally terrestrial.
    Rhizome erect or shortly creeping, occasionally long-creeping, up to 7 mm diameter, with dark brown to blackish subulate to narrowly triangular (sub-)entire attenuate clathrate scales 3–7 × 0.3–0.6 mm, with very narrow paler margin, ending in a hair-point.
    Frond tufted to shortly spaced, usually arching, not proliferous, firmly herbaceous to thinly coriaceous.
    Stipe dark brown to blackish, 4–40 cm long, covered at first with a mixture of scales similar to those on rhizome and mid-brown basally ovate, attenuate clathrate often rather hair-like scales to 3 mm with margin entire or with a few hair-like outgrowths, becoming subglabrous with age except near base.
    Leaf lamina
    Lamina ovate to lanceolate in outline, 8–60 × 2.5–16 cm, 2-pinnate to 3-pinnatifid or even 3-pinnatisect on lowermost pinnules, with the lower pinnae not reduced or occasionally slightly reduced; apical pinnae gradually decrescent.
    Pinnae in 7–25 pairs, dark to olive green, deltoid to narrowly lanceolate, and pinnatifid to 2pinnatifid, 1.5–12 × 0.7–4 cm, base stalked, unequally cuneate, divided into narrowly obcuneate to narrowly oblong segments, pinnules in general irregularly incised and serrate or crenate at their apices, scaly to glabrous beneath, sparsely scaly to glabrous on the upper surface.
    Rachis dark brown to blackish, green above and distally, covered with mostly hair-like scales but with some lanceolate scales, similar to those on the stipe, becoming subglabrous with age.
    Sori closely packed along the veins, linear, 2.5–10 mm long, when sporulating may obscure lower surface of pinnule.
    Indusium very narrowly linear, membranous, subentire, 0.3–0.5 mm wide.
    Fig. 9: 9–11, p. 54.
    Low to high epiphyte, in rock crevices or on mossy rocks, much less often terrestrial (at least in our area); moist or dry forest, wooded ravines, rocky woodland, bushland or bushed grassland, bamboo zone, moorland; 1150–3000(–3700) m
    Widespread; least concern (LC)
    A. uhligii and A. volkensii distinguished by their widely spaced fronds on a creeping rhizome A plant from Kenya, K 3, Twins Hills [not traced], 00°15'S 36°35'E [which makes this N Aberdares], rock crevices at 3300 m, Sep. 1976, Schippers K369, has few and short pinnae with narrow lobes (about 1 mm wide) but the scale mixture of this taxon. I believe it to be an aberrant high-altitude form, but it looks strange enough to mention it as something to look out for. A. buettneri distinguished by its obovate, rounded pinnules A. lividum distinguished by the sori in the wings along the rachis A. praegracile, distinguished by more finely dissected lamina and the creeping rhizome A. blastophorum, distinguished by proliferous fronds The most closely related other species are the following: Braithwaite in Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 93: 343–378 describes four subspecies from South Africa, with a few references to East African material. The taxa are keyed out by agamospermy (subsp. filare A.F.Braithw.), leaf dissection and spore characters, and include subsp. tripinnatum (Baker) A.F.Braithw. and subsp. dodecaploideum A.F.Braithw. Chaerle, in his unpublished thesis on the afromontane Aspleniums, follows Braithwaite; I am unable to write a working key to these taxa and so prefer to keep this taxon as ‘sensu lato’ (if not latissimo) for the time being. I have added A. albersii to the synonymy; with some reluctance, as it presents a form that is reasonably distinct in the narrowly obovate segments. This form however does not key out, all its characters being within the range of variation of A. aethiopicum; nor is there a geographical or ecological gap. The A. albersii form occurs in K 7; T 3, 6, 7; and is found in moist forest between 900–2000 m. Two of its types, Buchwald 295 and Libusch s.n., are A. aethiopicum sensu stricto, and only the third represents the albersii facies. An added problem is that this brings A. buettneri even closer to the main aethiopicum group...  Asplenium albersii Hieron. var. eickii Hieron. is a synonym of A. linckii. An extremely variable species, in both size, leaf dissection and pinna shape. It seems likely there is more than one taxon involved, and/or hybridization; but for practical reasons, it is treated here as a single (‘sensu lato’) taxon. Plants from above 3000 m altitude have shorter stipes and pinnae, and rarely exceed 20 cm; plants growing on rocks are also usually rather small, and possibly plants exposed to full sun in such situations have the fronds less dissected.
    Flora districts: U1 U2 U3 U4 K1 K2 K3 K4 K5 K6 K7 T1 T2 T3 T4 T6 T7 T8 Range: Throughout tropical Africa and to South Africa, Indian Ocean islands



    Native to:

    Andaman Is., Angola, Assam, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Provinces, Caroline Is., Central African Repu, Chad, China South-Central, China Southeast, Comoros, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Free State, Gabon, Guinea, Gulf of Guinea Is., Hawaii, India, Ivory Coast, Jawa, Kazan-retto, Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesser Sunda Is., Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaya, Maluku, Marianas, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, New Caledonia, New Guinea, New South Wales, Niger, Nigeria, Niue, Northern Provinces, Ogasawara-shoto, Philippines, Queensland, Rwanda, Réunion, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Society Is., Socotra, Somalia, Sri Lanka, St.Helena, Sulawesi, Tanzania, Tonga, Tubuai Is., Uganda, Victoria, Vietnam, Western Australia, Yemen, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

    Accepted Infraspecifics


    Other Data

    Asplenium aethiopicum (Burm.f.) Becherer appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    Aug 1, 2011 Grant, M.L. [3758], Society Is. K000672541
    Nov 1, 2008 Cheek, M. [13437], Cameroon K000580229
    Nov 1, 2008 Cheek, M. [13662], Cameroon K000580230
    Jan 1, 2008 Katende, T. [836], Uganda K000438368
    Dec 1, 2006 Someren, H.D. van [544], Kenya K000812150
    Nov 1, 2003 Zapfack, L. [2051], Cameroon K000746301
    Nov 1, 2003 Zapfack, L. [2033], Cameroon K000746296
    Sep 30, 2003 Hemp, A. [3671], Ethiopia K000812043
    Sep 30, 2003 Hemp, A. [3674], Ethiopia K000812042
    Feb 1, 2002 Palmer, D.D. [938], Hawaiian Is. K000660303
    Aug 1, 2001 Etuge, M. [2482], Cameroon K000108919
    Jan 1, 1998 Thomas, D.W. [9260], Cameroon K000380415
    Jan 1, 1998 Thomas, D.W. [9260], Cameroon K000380416
    Jan 1, 1998 Upson, T. [88], Cameroon K000510950
    Jan 1, 1998 Upson, T. [88], Cameroon K000510951
    Jan 1, 1998 Upson, T. [71], Cameroon K000510953
    Jan 1, 1998 Sidwell, K. [27], Cameroon K000085065
    Jan 1, 1989 Spruce, R. [5340], Ecuador K000200038
    Kairo, A. [508], Papua New Guinea K000475839
    Mogea, J.P. [5319], Indonesia K000451314
    Parris, B.S. [9271], Papua New Guinea K000475838
    Parris, B.S. [11175], Indonesia K000451313
    Bidgood, S. [5750], Tanzania K000468674
    Smith, E. [2501], Indonesia K000451312
    Smith, E. [2502B], Indonesia K000451311
    im Thurn, E. [214], Fiji K000660293
    Matthew, C.G. [s.n.], Indonesia K000451300
    Matthew, C.G. [s.n.], Indonesia K000451301
    Wight, R. [102] K001092513
    Buchanan, J. [s.n.], New Caledonia K000660302
    Everett, A.H. [85], Indonesia K000451310
    Wallich, N. [212] K001092514 Unknown type material
    Katende, T. [764], Uganda K000662272
    Blume, C.L. [s.n.], Indonesia K000451305
    Blume, C.L. [s.n.], Indonesia K000603488
    Vriese, W.H. de [546], Indonesia K000451307
    Raciborski, M. [s.n.], Indonesia K000451303
    Bellamy, A. [53], Papua New Guinea K000475840
    Mousset, J.P. [40], Indonesia K000451302
    Mousset, J.P. [575], Indonesia K000451306
    Mousset, J.P. [40], Indonesia K000451308
    Steenis, C.G.G.J. van [7929a], Indonesia K000451309
    Tiyoy, L.M. [1242], Uganda K000662271
    anonymous [s.n.], Indonesia K000451304
    anonymous [s.n.], New Caledonia K000660301
    Schlechter, R. [14875], New Caledonia K000660304
    Cribs [1398], New Caledonia K000660305
    Kamau [608], Kenya K000696558


    First published in Candollea 6: 23 (1935)

    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.
    • Retief, E. & Meyer, N.L. (2017). Plants of the Free State inventory and identification guide Strelitzia 38: 1-1236. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
    • Fraser-Jenkins, C.R. & al. (2017). An Annotated Checklist of Indian Pteridophytes 1: 1-562. Dehra Dun : BSMPS.
    • Roux, J.P. (2016). The Lycopods and Ferns of Drakensberg and Lesotho: 1-384. Briza academic books, Pretoria, South Africa.


    Flora of West Tropical Africa

    • Tard. in Mém I.F.A.N. 28 : 193, t. 38, fig. 1–3 (1953).
    • in Candollea 6 : 22 (1935)

    Kew Backbone Distributions

    • Retief, E. & Meyer, N.L. (2017). Plants of the Free State inventory and identification guide Strelitzia 38: 1-1236. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

    Flora of Tropical East Africa

    • U.K.W.F. ed. 2: 30, t. 173 (1994).
    • Thulin, Fl. Somal. 1: 13 (1993)
    • Johns, Pterid. trop. East Africa checklist: 61 (1991)
    • Burrows, S. Afr. Ferns: 246, map, figs. (1990)
    • Schelpe, F.Z. Pteridophyta: 181 (1970)
    • Alston, Ferns W.T.A.: 59 (1959)
    • A.V.P.: 29 (1953)
    • Candollea, 6: 23 (1935)


    Flora of Tropical East Africa
    Flora of Tropical East Africa

    Flora of West Tropical Africa
    Flora of West Tropical Africa

    Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
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    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

    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.