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PTERIDACEAE (prev. Adiantaceae)

Small clumping ferns. Maiden hair and rock ferns.

Adiantum sp.

maiden-hair ferns

When some people think of maiden-hair ferns, they think of sensitive house plants, but we have two species on the plant lists which grow in Black Hill, and Morialta Conservation Parks, and one on the Horsnell Gully plant list. These ferns are found in damper places in the Parks, and die back in summer, to sprout again from their underground rhizomes when wetter weather comes. The name Adiantum is derived from a Greek word adiantos, meaning dry, which is a reference to the water repellant properties of the leaves. It is said that if the frond is dipped in water, it remains dry.

Adiantum aethiopicum

common maidenhair fern

Adiantum aethiopicum the common maiden-hair, can be distinguished from the other species as the spores on the backs of the leaves, which are the fruiting parts, occur in the notches of the leaves. The name, aethiopicum, is an old name for South Africa, and indicates this species is also found in South Africa.

The common maiden hair fern is found in Black Hill, Morialta and Horsnell Gully Conservation Parks


Adiantum aethiopicum Horsnell Gully, 24 December 2008

See how the spores are formed in a horse-shoe shape on the backs of the leaves.

A closer view showing the arrangement of the spore around the notches in the leaves.

Adiantum capillus-veneris

dainty maiden hair fern
This species is listed as vulnerable under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972

We understand it growns in Black Hill and Morialta Conservation Parks on limestone soils.

We have been unable to obtain photographs of local specimens.


This image croped, resized, used under Creative Commons 2.0
Original by Biodiversity Heritage Library on FLICKR
See how the spores are illustrated as growing on the tips of the leaf serrations.

Anogramma sp.

There are about 7 to 10 species (depending on the source of information) of these small ferns. They are generally regarded as widespread, but the species recorded in Morialta Conservation Park: Anogramma leptophylla is listed as Rare in South Australia National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972.

The name Anogramma is derived from Greek: ano meaning upwards and gramma a letter, or writing. Texts say this is a reference to the location of the spore producing parts on the backs of the fronds.

Anogramma leptophylla

annual fern, looks a little like Cheilanthes austrotenuifolia but can be distinguished by the curved leaflets.

The name, leptophylla means with slender leaves, which are about 8cm long by a few centimetres wide..

Interestingly, the plant only appears on the Morialta Conservation Park plant list, yet the photo above was taken of a specimen found in Horsnell Gully Conservation Park during a working bee. We had been discussing the difference in appearance of the Cheilanthes species, and this specimen was found, along with an example of Cheilanthes austrotenuifolia. At the time we had no idea of what the fern was, that it was rare, or that it was not recorded as growing in Horsnell Gully Conservation Park. If we are able to locate it again, better photos will be taken to allow a positive identification. Once this is done, it will be able to be added to the official plant list for Horsnell Gully.


Anogramma leptophylla
Horsnell Gully, 17 December 2005

Cheilanthes sp.


Rock ferns or cloak-ferns

Small clumping ferns. These ferns are found in damper places in the Parks, and die back in summer, to sprout again from their underground rhizomes when wetter weather comes.

The name Cheilanthes is derived from a Greek words cheilos for lip and anthos, a flower, in reference to the lip-like membrane that covers the spore-producing parts under the leaves.

Cheilanthes austrotenuifolia

annual rock fern

This is the most common small fern we see, but the name is appears to be somewhat of an irony in our parks. 'Tenuifolia' means with slender leaves, but with fronds up to 16cm at their base, it has the widest fronds of all the Cheilanthes species in our parks. The annual rock fern can form quite large dense colonies in damper areas, unlike some other Cheilanthes species, the annual rock fern does not persist during summer, and dies back completely.

Fire Response
The main way a population of the annual rock fern survives fire is vegetatively, through underground rhizomes. This means it is moderately successful in persisting after fires. It is less likely to colonise new areas after fire. While a disturbed site will increase its ability to get established in a new location, it requires a site free of competition to be successful.


Cheilanthes austrotenuifolia
Black Hill CP, 23 June 2003

Cheilanthes austrotenuifolia
Montacute Valley Project site. Black Hill CP.

Cheilanthes distans

bristly cloak fern

With fronds that are only 2 to 3 cm wide and as the common names suggests, hairy.


This image resized, used under Creative Commons 2.0
Original by Tindo2 on FLICKR
This photo was taken in Tasmania, where the plant is endangered.

Cheilanthes sieberi ssp. sieberi

narrow rock fern or Mulga fern, , differs from the annual rock fern, with its narrower fronds, only 2 to 5 cm at the base, and the old dead fronds remain, and do not disappear.

It grows in sunny situations, and is said to be poisonous to stock. It was named after Franz William Sieber, an Austrian botanist (30 March 1789 to 17 December 1844).


This image resized, used under Creative Commons 2.5
Original by Russell Best via Nature Share on the Atlas of Living Australia
This photo taken outside of Melbourne, Victoria.

Pteris tremula

tender brake, grows to about a metre tall. The fronds come from a short upright rhizome.

This species is listed as rare in South Australia National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972, but is found in Black Hill Conservation Park.


This image resized, sourced as Public Domain
Original
Underside of frond.


This image resized, used under Creative Commons 2.0
Original by Pete the Poet
The prothallus. The amazing lifecyle of ferns.

More ferns:

Page updated 4 January 2016.

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