Fronds often pseudodichotomously branched with apical buds that are periodically dormant while each successive pair of branches develops, vernation circinate; lamina covered with hairs and/or fringed scales; ultimate segments flat or margins recurved; veins free.
Sori superficial, without indusium, made up of a small number of pear-shaped sporangia that split longitudinally.
| ||Key to the genera|| |
|1||Pinnules divided into many small segments that are 1–5 mm long, often pouch-like with revolute margins; sori solitary in each segment; rhizome and apical bud covered with scales||Gleichenia|
|Pinnules undivided, 1–6 cm long, oblong or linear, each segment bearing a number of sori; rhizome and apical buds covered with scales or stiff hairs||2|
|2||Rhizome and apical bud covered with scales; minor veins of the segments usually forked once; sporangia usually 4 in each sorus but varying from 1 to 6||Sticherus|
|Rhizome and apical bud covered with stiff, septate hairs; minor veins of segments forked at least twice; sporangia usually 6–12 in each sorus|
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