Subordinate Taxa
Scientific Name:
Microlepia C.Presl, Tent. Pterid. 124, t. 4 (1836)
Type Taxon:
Microlepia polypodioides (Sw.) C.Presl
From the Greek mikros (small) and lepis (a scale), a reference to the nature of the indusia.

Terrestrial ferns. Rhizomes short- to long-creeping, bearing multicellular hairs. Fronds monomorphic. Stipes hairy. Laminae 2–3-pinnate (NZ) or 1-pinnate or 4-pinnate (not NZ), herbaceous (NZ) or coriaceous (not NZ), bearing non-glandular hairs; primary pinnae stalked, lacking basal pinnule-like stipules. Veins free. Sori round (NZ) or broader than long (not NZ), on a slightly raised receptacle, submarginal; paraphyses present (NZ) or absent (not NZ). Indusia half-cup-shaped, attached at base and sides (NZ), or rarely cup-shaped (not NZ). Spores trilete, finely echinate or almost smooth.


Microlepia is closely related to, and often difficult to distinguish from, Dennstaedtia. Molecular evidence (Schuettpelz & Pryer 2007; Perrie et al. 2015) suggests that it is monophyletic and sister to one clade of Dennstaedtia. It is slightly more homogeneous cytologically than Dennstaedtia, with base chromosome numbers of x = 40, 42, 43 and c. 44 reported (Brownsey 1998). The genus is in need of revision.


In New Zealand, Microlepia can be recognised by its creeping rhizomes, highly divided laminae bearing non-glandular hairs, more or less round submarginal sori, and half-cup-shaped indusia attached at the base and sides.


A genus of one pantropical species and about 60 species in the Asia–Pacific region (PPG 1 2016), with 25 species in China (Yan et al. 2013), six in Malaya (Holttum 1968), seven in the Philippines (Copeland 1958), five in New Guinea (Copeland 1950), one in Australia (Brownsey 1998), and about five in the Pacific. One species occurs as a casual in New Zealand.

Number of species in New Zealand within Microlepia C.Presl
Exotic: Casual1

Microlepia was described by Presl (1836) but is pre-dated by Scyphofilix, published 30 years earlier by Thouars (1806). They were both lectotypified with the same type by Farwell (1931), who argued that Scyphofilix had priority over Microlepia. Nevertheless, Farwell’s work has been ignored and Microlepia almost universally adopted as the name for this genus. Schwartsburd (2017) proposed that Microlepia should be conserved against Scyphofilix.

Brownsey, P.J. 1998: Dennstaedtiaceae. In: Flora of Australia. Vol. 48. 214–228.
Brownsey, P.J.; Perrie, L.R. 2018: Dennstaedtiaceae. In: Breitwieser, I.; Wilton, A.D. (ed.) Flora of New Zealand — Ferns and Lycophytes. Fascicle 19. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln.
Brownsey, P.J.; Perrie, L.R. 2022: Dennstaedtiaceae. Edition 2. In: Glenny, D. (ed.) Flora of New Zealand - Ferns and Lycophytes. Fascicle 19. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln.
Copeland, E.B. 1950: Pteridaceae of New Guinea. Philippine Journal of Science 78: 5–41.
Copeland, E.B. 1958: Fern flora of the Philippines. Vol. 1. Bureau of Printing, Manila.
Farwell, O.A. 1931: Fern notes II. Ferns in the herbarium of Parke, Davis & Company. American Midland Naturalist 12: 233–311.
Holttum, R.E. 1968 ("1966"): A revised Flora of Malaya. Vol. II. Ferns of Malaya. Government Printing Office, Singapore.
Kramer, K.U.; Green, P.S. 1990: Pteridophytes and gymnosperms. Kubitzki, K. (ed.) The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants. Vol. 1. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
Perrie, L.R.; Shepherd, L.D.; Brownsey, P.J. 2015: An expanded phylogeny of the Dennstaedtiaceae ferns: Oenotrichia falls within a non-monophyletic Dennstaedtia, and Saccoloma is polyphyletic. Australian Systematic Botany 28: 256–264.
PPG 1 2016: A community-derived classification for extant lycophytes. Journal of Systematics and Evolution 54(6): 563–603.
Presl, C.B. 1836: Tentamen Pteridographiae. Haase, Prague.
Schuettpelz, E.; Pryer, K.M. 2007: Fern phylogeny inferred from 400 leptosporangiate species and three plastid genes. Taxon 56: 1037–1050.
Schwartsburd, P.B. 2017: (2508) Proposal to conserve the name Microlepia against Scyphofilix (Dennstaedtiaceae). Taxon 66: 516.
Thouars, L.M.A. 1806: Genera nova Madagascariensia. Paris.
Yan, Y.; Qi, X.; Liao, W.; Xing, F.; Ding, M.; Wang, F.; Zhang, X.; Wu, Z.; Serizawa, S.; Prado, J.; Funston, A.M.; Gilbert, M.G.; Nooteboom, H.P. 2013: Dennstaedtiaceae. In: Zhengyi, W.; Raven, P.H.; Deyuan, H. (ed.) Flora of China. Lycopodiaceae through Polypodiaceae. Vol. 2–3. Science Press, Beijing.