Blechnum chilense, photographed by Franz Xaver.

Belongs within: Pteridales.

The Blechnaceae include the hard ferns and chain ferns. The family is cosmopolitan, but most diverse in the southern temperate and tropical regions. In some species, reproductive and sterile fronds may be very different in appearance, and have sometimes been mistaken for fronds of separate species.

Characters (from Cranfill 1993): Plants perennial, mostly terrestrial, occasionally lithophytic or epiphytic. Stems creeping to suberect or ascending, sometimes climbing (rarely arborescent), slender to stout, dictyostelic, scaly. Leaves monomorphic or dimorphic, large and coarse, generally greater than 30 cm, often exceeding 1 m. Petiole not articulate, generally more than 2 vascular bundles arranged in arc, generally scaly at least at base. Blade often anthocyanic (reddish) when young, pinnatifid (rarely simple) to pinnate-pinnatifid or 2-pinnate (rarely decompound), glabrous or occasionally bearing scales or capitate glands. Rachis frequently grooved adaxially. Veins of sterile leaves generally free, rarely anastomosing, veins of fertile leaves united to form sorus-bearing secondary vein parallel to costa or costule (vascular commisure), sometimes anastomosing further. Sori elongate along secondary vein; indusia usually present, opening along costal side of fertile vein, frequently hidden by dehisced sporangia; sporangial stalk of 3 rows of cells. Spores monolete, reniform; perine present, variously ornamented. Gametophytes green, cordate, sometimes bearing capitate hairs, antheridia and archegonia borne on lower surface.

    |--Woodwardia I88
    |    |--W. areolata SS04
    |    |--W. fimbriata SS04
    |    |--W. rhadamanti S89
    |    |--W. roessneriana S89
    |    |--W. spinulosa L54
    |    |--W. unigemmata (Makino) Nakai 1925 (see below for synonymy) I88
    |    `--W. virginica SS04
    `--Blechnum I88
         |--B. banksii A27
         |--B. chilense D03
         |--B. dentatum SS04
         |--B. discolor A27
         |--B. divergens J87
         |--B. durum A27
         |--B. falciforme L54
         |--B. filiforme A27
         |--B. fluviatile A27
         |--B. fragile J87
         |--B. fraseri A27
         |--B. gracile SS04
         |--B. lanceolatum A27
         |--B. membranaceum A27
         |--B. minor [=B. capense var. minor Hooker 1855] C49
         |--B. nigrum A27
         |--B. norfolkiana A27
         |--B. occidentale WP05
         |--B. orientale Linnaeus 1753 I88
         |--B. paleacea A27
         |--B. patersoni Mett. 1856 [incl. B. patersoni var. elongatum Hooker & Bak. 1873] C49
         |--B. penna-marina M03 [incl. Lomaria alpina M03, B. alpinum A27]
         |--B. procerum C49 [incl. B. capense Schlect 1825 C49, Lomaria capensis A27]
         |--B. spicant KTS00
         |--B. tabulare M03 [incl. Lomaria magellanica M03, B. magellanicum D03]
         |--B. tuerckheimii J87
         |--B. underwoodianum J87
         |--B. unilaterale L54
         `--B. vulcanicum A27

Nomen nudum: Blechnum molassicum Squinabol 1889 S89
             Blechnum woodwardiaeforme Squinabol 1889 S89

Woodwardia unigemmata (Makino) Nakai 1925 [=W. radicans var. unigemmata Makino 1918; incl. W. himalaica Ching & Wu in Wu 1983] I88

*Type species of generic name indicated


[A27] Andersen, J. C. 1927. Popular names of New Zealand plants. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 57: 905-977.

Cranfill, R. B. 1993. Blechnaceae C. Presl. In: Flora of North America vol. 1, pp. 223-227. Oxford University Press.

[C49] Crookes, M. W. 1949. A revised and annotated list of New Zealand Filicinae. Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand 77 (2): 209-225.

[D03] Dusén, P. 1903. The vegetation of western Patagonia. In Reports of the Princeton University Expeditions to Patagonia, 1896-1899, vol. 8 – Botany (W. B. Scott, ed.) pp. 1-34. The University: Princeton (New Jersey).

[I88] Iwatsuki, K. 1988. An enumeration of the pteridophytes of Nepal. In The Himalayan Plants vol. 1 (H. Ohba & S. B. Malla, eds) The University Museum, University of Tokyo, Bulletin 31: 231-339.

[J87] Judd, W. S. 1987. Floristic study of Morne La Visite and Pic Macaya National Parks, Haiti. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum – Biological Sciences 32 (1): 1-136.

[KTS00] Keary, I. P., C. Thomas & E. Sheffield. 2000. The effects of the herbicide asulam on the gametophytes of Pteridium aquilinum, Cryptogramma crispa and Dryopteris filix-mas. Annals of Botany 85 (Suppl. B): 47-51.

[L54] Lötschert, W. 1954. Beitrag zur Pteridophyten-Flora von Mittel-Amerika. Senckenbergiana Biologica 35 (1-2): 109-119.

[M03] Macloskie, G. 1903. Pteridophyta, ferns and fernlike plants. In Reports of the Princeton University Expeditions to Patagonia, 1896-1899, vol. 8 – Botany (W. B. Scott, ed.) pp. 127-138. The University: Princeton (New Jersey).

[SS04] Schneider, H., E. Schuettpelz, K. M. Pryer, R. Cranfill, S. Magallón & R. Lupia. 2004. Ferns diversified in the shadow of angiosperms. Nature 428: 553-557.

[S89] Squinabol, S. 1889. Res Ligusticae. VII. – Cenno preliminare sulla flora fossile di Santa Giustina. Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Genova, Serie 2a 7: 73-76.

[WP05] Wikström, N., & K. M. Pryer. 2005. Incongruence between primary sequence data and the distribution of a mitochondrial atp1 group II intron among ferns and horsetails. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 36: 484-493.

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