Vascular Plants of the Gila Wilderness

Presented in Association with the
Western New Mexico University Department of Natural Sciences

Pteridaceae
(Maidenhair Fern Family)


The Pteridaceae is largest family of ferns by number of taxa in the Gila National Forest. It includes our most common species in the area. The stems are rhizomatous and have scales. Most members of the Pteridaceae either lack indusia or have false indusia formed by a rolled back margin of the pinna. The abaxial surface of some may be covered with a white substance called farina*.

Key to the genus Pellaea in the Gila National Forest.

Key to the genus Astrolepis in the Gila National Forest.

Key to the genus Argyrochosma in the Gila National Forest.

Key to the genus Cheilanthes in the Gila National Forest.

Adiantum capillus-veneris (Southern Maiden Hair)
Argyrochosma fendleri (Fendler's Cloak Fern)
Argyrochosma limitanea subsp. mexicana (Southwestern False Cloak Fern)
Astrolepis cochisensis (Jimmyfern, Cochise Scaly Cloak Fern)
Astrolepis integerrima (Southwestern Cloak Fern)
Astrolepis sinuata (Wavy cloak Fern)
Astrolepis windhamii (Windham's Cloak Fern)
Bommeria hispida (Copper Fern)
Cheilanthes bonariensis (Slender Lip Fern)
Cheilanthes eatonii (Eaton Lip Fern)
Cheilanthes feei (Slender Lip Fern)
Cheilanthes fendleri (Fendler Lip Fern)
Cheilanthes lindheimeri (Fairy Swords)
Cheilanthes tomentosa (Wooly Lip Fern)
Cheilanthes wootonii (Wooton's Lip Fern)
Cheilanthes wrightii (Wright Lip Fern)
Cheilanthes yavapensis (Graceful Lip Fern)
Notholaena standleyi (Star Cloak Fern)
Pellaea atropurpurea (Purple Cliff Brake)
Pellaea intermedia (Creeping Cliff Brake)
Pellaea truncata (Spiny Cliff Brake)
Pellea wrightiana (Wright Cliff Brake)


*Farina is an amorphous white or yellow substance covering the undersurface (abaxial surface) of some types of ferns. From the American Fern Journal, vol. 68 no.1 by Eckhard Wollenweber:
"The farinose coating of these plants is not excreted by the entire epidermis, like a true wax coating, but is formed exclusively by the globose terminal cell of small hairs which have a short, unicellular stalk. The wax is exuded on the whole surface of the terminal cells in the shape of rod- or needle-like crystals... It is striking that the components of fern farina are almost exclusively methyl derivatives of flavonoids and so are rather non-polar compounds..."
Flavonoids are water soluble plant pigments, complex aromatic compounds with 2 phenyl rings and other constituents. It has variously been suggested that the presence of these compounds on ferns makes the surface more reflective and therefore less susceptible to intense sunlight or that it makes the plant less palatable to potential browsers.


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