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Genus Polystichum Family Dryopteridaceae
Common Name: Shield ferns

Description: Terrestrial ferns, the rhizome erect or shortly creeping, thick, densely covered with broad scales.

Fronds clustered, proliferous buds sometimes present on main rachis; stipe scaly at the base; rachis covered with broad-based scales; lamina 2–3-pinnate; pinnae unequal-sided, veins free.

Sori circular, the indusium peltate.


Photo © ANBG

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 160 species, almost cosmopolitan. Australia: 4 species, Qld, N.S.W., Vic., Tas.

Text by Peter G. Wilson
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Polystichum moorei,    Polystichum whiteleggei

 Key to the species 
1Proliferous buds never present on the main rachis; small woolly, pale brown, much-divided scales present on the stipes and rachises2
Proliferous buds often present on the main rachis; small woolly scales not present, although the bases of the lanceolate scales on the rachis are divided and somewhat feathery3
2Scales of the rhizome and stipe base clearly of two types, narrow and red-brown at the very base, and broader (sometimes also darker) further upPolystichum fallax
Scales of the rhizome and stipe base predominantly of one type, all red-brown and ovate to lanceolate
                       Back to 1
Polystichum formosum
3Scales at base of stipe glossy, mostly with a pale border, and often twistedPolystichum proliferum
Scales at base of stipe dull, lacking a pale border
                       Back to 1
Polystichum australiense

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