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Blechnaceae

Incl. Stenochlaenaceae

Mostly terrestrial ferns, sometimes climbers starting from the ground, rhizome mostly erect, sometimes rampant, dictyostelic, bearing dark, basally attached scales. Fronds mostly long stipitate, the stipe with 2 to several bundles in a ring, or many bundles in a more complex arrangement, lamina pinnatifid or pinnate, sometimes simple, lobed, or bipinnatifid, uniform or with strongly contracted fertile pinnae or lobes, glabrous, hairy and/or scaly, veins free to the margin, or anastomosing in a single (rarely more) series of costal areoles. Sori elongate and continuous along a vascular network either side of the midrib, protected by an indusium opening inwards, less often exindusiate, sometimes sori short, occasionally confluent, in 1 - 2 rows; annulus longitudinal, interrupted; spores monolete.

Distribution

A family of 11 genera worldwide, with c. 240 species. In Papuasia there are 4 genera with c. 33 species.

Literature

Copeland, E.B. 1949. Aspleniaceae and Blechnaceae of New Guinea. Philip. J. Sci. 78: 207 - 229.

Holttum, R.E. 1932. On Stenochlaena, Lomariopsis and Teratophyllum on the Malayan region. Gard. Bull. Str. Set. 5: 245 - 313, f. 1 - 39, pl. 1 - 12.

Holttum, R.E. 1937. Further notes on Stenochlaena, Lomariopsis and Teratophyllum. Gard. Bull. Str. Set. 9: 139 - 144.

Holttum, R.E. 1971. The genus Stenochlaena J. Smith with description of a new species. Amer. Fern J. 61: 119 - 123.

Parris, B.S. 1978. A new Species of Doodia R. Br. (Blechnaceae) from New Guinea. Blumea 34: 505 - 506.

Genera

1

High-climbers starting from the ground; sterile pinnae with a narrow series of costal areoles (best seen at the apex of the pinnae); sporangia acrostichoid on contracted fertile pinnae, indusium lacking but the edge of the lamina may be reflexed...

Stenochlaena (3)
Terrestrial; venation not as above; sori not acrostichoid, or if apparently so then a thin indusium along the edge of the fertile leaflets...
... 2
2 Sori continuous along each side of the costa of the leaflet, a sterile lamina present beyond the sorus or not...
Blechnum (c. 25)
Sori not continuous throughout the length of the leaflet, one sorus to each areole along the costa...
... 3
3 Small ferns; simply pinnate, the edges of the pinnae sharply toothed; no proliferous bud near apex of frond...
Doodia (2)
Large ferns; at least bipinnatifid, the edges of the lobes not very sharply toothed; a large scaly proliferous bud near the apex of the frond...
Woodwardia (1)

Note

Blechnum fraseri is somewhat anomalous in that genus with its bipinnatifid-serrate fronds (and by implication the very closely related B. rosenstockii with pinnatifid serrate fronds) and has been assigned its own genus, Diploblechnum, which may be related to the Australian genus, Pteridoblechnum; the validity of such a distinction at the generic level needs further investigation.

The anatomy of Stenochlaena is somewhat anomalous in this family and some authors have placed it in its own family, the Stenochlaenaceae. It has been included in several other families in the past.


Updated November 1999 by Jim Croft (jim.croft@environment.gov.au)