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  1. Family: Aspleniaceae Newman
    1. Genus: Asplenium L.
      1. Asplenium boltonii Hook. ex Schelpe

        This species is accepted, and its native range is Tanzania to S. Africa, Madagascar, Réunion.


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

    Type: South Africa, Natal, Bolton s.n. (K!, holo., BM, iso.)
    Low-level epiphyte, less often lithophyte or terrestrial.
    Rhizome erect or sometimes shortly creeping, fleshy, up to 2 cm diameter, branching on large plants, with brown linear-lanceolate scales with pale margins, entire, up to 18 × 2 mm at its base, composed of hyaline thin-walled cells.
    Fronds tufted, arching, 40–100 cm high, 1pinnate, proliferous at the base of one of the apical pinnae.
    Stipe matt-grey-green, 10–26 cm long and 4 mm diameter, at first densely covered with reddish-brown hairlike scales up to 14 mm long, later becoming subglabrous.
    Leaf lamina
    Lamina dull green, chartaceous, 1-pinnate, ovate-lanceolate, 33–80 × 8–22 cm, with the lowest pinnae slightly reduced.
    Pinnae in 13–28 pairs, lanceolate-attenuate, 4–10(–15) × 1–1.5(–1.8) cm, base broad and unequally cuneate, the acroscopic part parallel to the rachis, margin incised 1/3 way to the costa into bilobed or bicrenate-serrate lobes, apex attenuate, glabrous above but with scattered hair-like scales below when young.
    Leaf veins
    Veins forked.
    Rachis matt-grey-green, with some hair-like scales similar to those on the stipe.
    Sori several to many, elliptic when mature, 3–8 mm long, extending along the veins from near the costa to 1/2 or 2/3 the distance to the margin.
    Indusium subelliptic, 1–1.5 mm broad, entire.
    Fig. 3: 4, p. 19.
    Moist forest; 1200–2750 m
    Widespread; least concern (LC)
    I agree with Faden that this resembles the much commoner A. smedsii and that it differs only in having gemmae on the fronds. Burrows (loc. cit.) states that the occurrence of gemmae on the fronds varies in different areas. This is certainly true for East Africa, at the norther end of the species’ range. In quite similar-looking plants from Ngangao forest, K 7, gemmae may be present or absent; Faden states in his 69/895 from K 4 that the whole population lacked gemmae – possibly the reason why Johns in his checklist split off this collection and Verdcourt 2988 as ‘species B’. Relationships between these two taxa ( boltonii and smedsii) need to be cleared up. In the Berlin herbarium there were several sheets of this taxon named A. anisophyllum Kunze var. microphylla, a name on which I have been unable to find any information. Similarly specimens of A. boltonii were named A. deckenii Hieron. with as ‘type’ a specimen from Tanzania, Kilimajaro, Dschagga, 5500’–7800’, leg. Kersten anno 1864 in von der Decken 27 (and possibly 28). Again I have found no publications in which this name is mentioned. There has been confusion over the authority of the name, but despite Pichi Sermolli’s arguments (loc.cit.) I believe Schelpe was the first to publish the name correctly. Brause & Hieron. in Z.A.E.: 8 (1910) merely repeated the non-publication of the name in Baker’s Syn. Fil.: 204 (1874).
    Range: Congo-Kinshasa, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Madagascar, Réunion Flora districts: U2 U4 K3 K4 K5 K7 T2 T6 T7

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

    Brause & Hieron. state this taxon occurs in Kilimanjaro and Bukoba. It is supposed to be really close to A. boltonii. The type is from Rwanda. I have seen no East African specimens.



    Native to:

    Cape Provinces, Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Northern Provinces, Réunion, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zaïre, Zimbabwe


    Other Data

    Asplenium boltonii Hook. ex Schelpe appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    Jan 1, 1981 Jansen, P.C.M. [2150], Ethiopia K000812103
    Robinson [10], South Africa K000229230
    Robinson [10 A], South Africa K000229231
    Bolton [s.n.], KwaZulu-Natal K000229227 lectotype
    Drege [s.n.], South Africa K000229229 isolectotype
    Drège [s.n.], South Africa K000229228 isolectotype


    First published in Bol. Soc. Brot., sér. 2, 41: 204 (1967)

    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

    • U.K.W.F. ed. 2: 28 (1994).
    • Johns, Pterid. trop. East Africa checklist: 62 (1991)
    • Burrows, S. Afr. Ferns: 216, map, figs. (1990)
    • Webbia 37, 1: 133 (1983)
    • F.Z. Pteridophyta: 173 (1970)
    • Bol. Soc. Brot. ser. 2, 41: 204 (1967)


    Flora of Tropical East Africa
    Flora of Tropical East Africa

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    Kew Backbone Distributions
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    © 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.