Scientific Name:
Schizaea Sm., Mém. Acad. Roy. Sci. (Turin) 5: 419 (1793), nom. cons.
  • = Ripidium Bernh., J. Bot. (Schrader) 1800(2): 127 (1801)
  • = Microschizaea C.F.Reed, Bol. Soc. Brot. Ser. 2 21: 133 (1948)
From the Greek schizo (split, cut), a reference to the incised, dichotomously-divided frond segments.

As for the family, except: sterile portions of the frond terete or flattened; modified fertile portions, at the distal end of the undivided or dichotomously branching sterile portions, pinnately branched; branches of the fertile portions short and infolded.


A genus of c. 15 species (when distinguished from Actinostachys).

1Sterile portion of the frond dichotomously branching 1–7 times2
Sterile portion of the frond undivided3
2Sterile portion of the frond flattened, glossy and smooth, dividing 3–7 times; fertile portions of the frond 2–8 mm longdichotoma
Sterile portion of the frond ±terete, dull and often scabrid, dividing 1–2 or rarely 3 times; fertile portions of the frond 5–24 mm longbifida
3Sterile portion of the frond often scabrid; branches of fertile portions 3–13 mm long; hairs present amongst the sporangiabifida
Sterile portion of the frond smooth; branches of fertile portions 2–7 mm long; hairs absent between the sporangia4
4Sterile portion of the frond 15–345 mm long; fertile portion of the frond 3–17 mm long; branches of fertile portions in 4–13 pairs; stomata on sterile portion of frond 81–114 μm long; plants of montane or southern and subantarctic areasaustralis
Sterile portion of the frond 100–550 mm long; fertile portion of the frond 9–38 mm long; branches of fertile portions in 7–30 pairs; stomata on sterile portion of frond 126–180 μm long; plants of lowland areasfistulosa

Schizaea has very characteristic fronds with very short, pinnately branched fertile portions at the distal end of long, undivided or dichotomously branched, sterile portions. The fertile branches are infolded in the form of a comb, and the sori are borne individually in marginal rows either side of the midrib.


Widespread in tropical and southern temperate regions; one species in temperate North America, four to six in tropical America, one in South America, three in Africa, one in India and Sri Lanka, four in south-east Asia, five in Australia, and five in the Pacific. Four species in New Zealand; none endemic.

Indigenous (Non-endemic)
Number of species in New Zealand within Schizaea Sm.
Indigenous (Non-endemic)4

n = c. 72, 77, 94, 96, 103 and approximate numbers up to c. 540 (Kramer 1990). These numbers defy interpretation and no base number for the genus has yet been clearly identified.

Bernhardi, J.J. 1801: Tentamen alterum filices in genera redigenda. Journal für die Botanik (Schrader) 1800(2): 121–136.
Brownsey, P.J.; Given, D.R.; Lovis, J.D. 1985: A revised classification of New Zealand pteridophytes with a synonymic checklist of species. New Zealand Journal of Botany 23(3): 431–489.
Brownsey, P.J.; Perrie, L.R. 2014: Schizaeaceae. In: Breitwieser, I; Heenan, P.B.; Wilton, A.D. (ed.) Flora of New Zealand — Ferns and Lycophytes. Fascicle 5. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln.
Brownsey, P.J.; Smith-Dodsworth, J.C. 2000: New Zealand ferns and allied plants. Edition 2. David Bateman, Auckland.
Christenhusz, M.J.M.; Zhang, X.-C.; Schneider, H. 2011: A linear sequence of extant families and genera of lycophytes and ferns. Phytotaxa 19: 7–54.
Ke, B.-F.; Wang, G.-J.; Labiak, P.H.; Rouhan, G.; on behalf of the GoFlag Consortium; Chen, C.-W.; Shepherd, L.D.; Ohlsen, D.J.; Renner, M.A.M.; Karol, K.G.; Li, F.-W.; Kuo, L.-Y. 2022: Systematics and Plastome Evolution in Schizaeaceae. Frontiers in Plant Science: 1–14 (online). (Published online: 13 July 2022 [as Microschizaea C.F.Reed]
Kramer, K.U. 1990: Schizaeaceae. In: Kramer, K.U.; Green, P.S. Pteridophytes and gymnosperms. Vol. 1. In: Kubitzki, K. (ed.) The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants. Springer-Verlag, Berlin. 258–263.
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.
Large, M.F.; Braggins, J.E. 1991: Spore atlas of New Zealand ferns and fern allies. SIR Publishing, Wellington.
Pichi Sermolli, R.E.G. 1977: Tentamen Pteridophytorum genera in taxonomicum ordinem redigendi. Webbia 31: 313–512.
Reed, C.F. 1948: The phylogeny and ontogeny of the Pteropsida. 1. Schizaeales. Boletim da Sociedade Broteriana (Series 2) 21: 71–197.
Smith, A.R.; Pryer, K.M.; Schuettpelz, E.; Korall, P.; Schneider, H.; Wolf, P.G. 2006: A classification for extant ferns. Taxon 55(3): 705–731.
Smith, J.E. 1793: Tentamen botanicum de filicum generibus dorsiferarum. Mémoires de l'Académie Royale des Sciences de Turin 5: 401–422.