Scientific Name:
Polypodiaceae J.Presl & C.Presl, Delic. Prag. 159 (1822)
Type Taxon:

Epiphytic, rupestral or terrestrial ferns.  Rhizomes usually short- to long-creeping or rarely erect, scaly.  Fronds monomorphic or dimorphic, usually articulated to rhizome. Laminae undivided, lobed or pinnate.  Veins reticulate; areoles usually with free included veinlets, rarely without.  Sori round or slightly elongate, on abaxial lamina surfaces, superficial or impressed into the lamina and bulging on upper surface, arranged in one or more rows either side of the costa or sporangia scattered over the lamina surface; paraphyses often present; exindusiate.  Sporangia with vertical annulus, usually 64 spores per sporangium.  Homosporous; spores monolete or rarely trilete, almost smooth to tuberculate, lacking chlorophyll.


A family of about 35–40 genera, and 600 species (Smith et al. 2006, not including grammitid ferns).

The family Polypodiaceae is interpreted here according to Smith et al. (2006), although the grammitid ferns will be treated at a later date.  Ranker et al. (2004) and Schneider et al. (2004) have shown that the grammitid ferns are nested within Polypodiaceae, even though they have a large number of morphological apomorphies.  

The family (excluding grammitid ferns) is represented in New Zealand by three indigenous genera (Loxogramme, Microsorum and Pyrrosia), one naturalised (Polypodium) and two casual (Niphidium and Platycerium).

The family name Polypodiaceae was attributed to Berchtold & Presl (1820) by Pichi Sermolli (1970).  Berchtold & Presl treated Polypodiaceae at the rank of "řad" (order), but Pichi Sermolli argued that this should be regarded as equivalent to the modern family.  However a change to the rules of botanical nomenclature at Vienna (Art. 18.2, Note 1, Ex. 4) specifically states that "names published at the rank of order ("řad") by Berchtold & Presl (1820) are not to be treated as having been published at the rank of family, since the term family ("čeled") was sometimes used to denote a rank below the rank of order".  The name Polypodiaceae was attributed to Presl & Presl by Smith et al. (2006).

1Fertile laminae undivided 2
Fertile laminae lobed, pinnatifid, pinnate or bifurcating5
2Sori usually in 2 to many rows either side of costa3
Sori in 1 row either side of costa4
3Lower surface of laminae densely covered in stellate hairs; veins obscurePyrrosia
Lower surface of laminae almost glabrous, lacking stellate hairs; veins prominentNiphidium
4Rhizomes erect, with proliferous roots; areoles of reticulate veins lacking free included veinlets; hydathodes absentLoxogramme
Rhizomes long-creeping, lacking proliferous roots; areoles of reticulate veins with free included veinlets; hydathodes visible on upper lamina surfaceMicrosorum
5Fronds strongly dimorphic with specialised sterile basal (‘nest’) fronds and fertile foliage fronds; lamina dichotomously branched; sporangia scattered over apices of lamina segmentsPlatycerium
Fronds sometimes dimorphic but specialised sterile basal (‘nest’) fronds absent; lamina pinnately branched or lobed; sporangia in discrete sori6
6Laminae deeply pinnatifid but not divided completely to rachis; lamina lobes entire or wavy but not toothedMicrosorum
Laminae pinnate, divided completely to rachis at least in the basal third; pinna margins minutely serratePolypodium

Mostly tropical but a few genera and species extending into temperate regions. Eight genera with nineteen species in New Zealand; four endemic.

Indigenous (Non-endemic)
Number of species in New Zealand within Polypodiaceae J.Presl & C.Presl
Indigenous (Endemic)7
Indigenous (Non-endemic)10
Exotic: Fully Naturalised1
Exotic: Casual3
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Bosman, M.T.M. 1986: Original Microsorum vs. later Microsorium (Polypodiaceae). Taxon 35: 590–591.
Bosman, M.T.M. 1991: A monograph of the fern genus Microsorum (Polypodiaceae). Leiden Botanical Series 14: 1–161.
Brownlie, G. 1958: Chromosome numbers in New Zealand ferns. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand 85: 213–216.
Brownsey, P.J.; Perrie, L.R. 2012: Taxonomic notes on the New Zealand flora: lectotypes and excluded taxa in the fern family Polypodiaceae. New Zealand Journal of Botany 50: 179–184.
Brownsey, P.J.; Perrie, L.R. 2015: Polypodiaceae (excluding Notogrammitis). In: Breitwieser, I; Heenan, P.B.; Wilton, A.D. (ed.) Flora of New Zealand — Ferns and Lycophytes. Fascicle 1. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln.
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Chen, C-C.; Hyvönen, J.; Schneider, H. 2020: Exploring phylogeny of the microsoroid ferns (Polypodiaceae) based on six plastid DNA markers. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 143:
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Heenan, P.B.; de Lange, P.J.; Cameron, E.K.; Ogle, C.C.; Champion, P.D. 2004: Checklist of dicotyledons, gymnosperms, and pteridophytes naturalised or casual in New Zealand: additional records 2001–2003. New Zealand Journal of Botany 42: 797–814.
Heenan, P.B.; de Lange, P.J.; Cameron, E.K.; Parris, B.S. 2008: Checklist of dicotyledons, gymnosperms, and pteridophytes naturalised or casual in New Zealand: additional records 2004–06. New Zealand Journal of Botany 46: 257–283.
Hennipman, E.; Veldhoen, P.; Kramer, K.U. 1990: Polypodiaceae. 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.
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Perrie, L.R.; Parris, B.S. 2012: Chloroplast DNA sequences indicate the grammitid ferns (Polypodiaceae) in New Zealand belong to a single clade, Notogrammitis gen. nov. New Zealand Journal of Botany 50(4): 457–472.
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Ranker, T.A.; Smith, A.R.; Parris, B.S.; Geiger, J.M.O.; Haufler, C.H.; Straub, S.C.K.; Schneider, H. 2004: Phylogeny and evolution of grammitid ferns (Grammitidaceae): a case of rampant morphological homoplasy. Taxon 53: 415–428.
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Testo, W.L.; Field, A.R.; Sessa, E.B.; Sundue, M. 2019: Phylogenetic and morphological analyses support the resurrection of Dendroconche and the recognition of two new genera on Polypodiaceae subfamily Microsoroideae. Systematic Botany 44: 737–752.