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Family: Thelypteridaceae Ching ex Pic.Serm.

Kingdom: Plantae Rank: Family Parent: Polypodiales Status: Valid

Common Names:

  • MARSH FERN FAMILY - English, United States of America
  • MAIDEN FERN FAMILY - English, United States of America

Morphological Description

Family Recognition in the Field: Sori usually on veins (but not marginal) on lower leaf surfaces; leaves usually all alike, 1-pinnate-pinnatifid, 2-pinnate-pinnatifid, or 2–3 pinnatifid, the lower surfaces with transparent needle-like hairs (distinguishing this family from Dryopteridaceae, which lack such hairs), the ultimate leaf segments often (but not always) entire.

Diagnosis: East TX species terrestrial; stems (rhizomes) short- or long-creeping; leaves usually monomorphic or nearly so (somewhat dimorphic in Thelypteris dentata); leaf blades 1-pinnate-pinnatifid, 2-pinnate-pinnatifid, or 2–3-pinnatifid near base, less divided distally, usually with an indument (sometimes sparse) of transparent needle-like hairs abaxially, the ultimate segments (= smallest subdivisions) often, but not always, entire; sori usually round, abaxial on the blade surfaces (usually on veins), medial to submarginal; indusia round to kidney-shaped or obscure or absent.


Notes: A medium-sized (4–6 genera and ca. 900–1000 species—Mabberley 1997; Nauman et al. 2000) family of terrestrial ferns. While the group is subcosmopolitan, most members are tropical. There has been disagreement on the number of genera, with the number having ranged from 1 to ca. 30 depending on circumscription (Smith 1993a). While members of the family have traditionally been associated with Dryopteris (Dryopteridaceae) (e.g., Correll 1956), there is no close relationship (Smith 1993a); the similarities are apparently due to convergent evolution.