Astrolepis sinuata

Astrolepis sinuata (Lag. ex Sw.) D.M. Benham & Windham
(Latin: sinuatus, curved or wavy, in reference to the wavy-margined pinnae)

Local names: wavy scaly cloak fern, wavy cloak fern, long cloak fern, jimmy fern, bulb lip fern

Leaves 11–130 cm long (usually smaller); longest pinnae 7–35 mm long, deeply symmetrically lobed with 6- to 14-lobes, the lower surface concealed by scales, the upper surface with scales sparse, deciduous, elongate, stellate. Rocky slopes, outcrops, or cliffs, calcareous or other substrates. Sporulating Mar–Nov. Benham and Windham (1993) treated this species as being composed of two subspecies, both of which occur in TX (a sexual diploid and an apogamous triploid). They distinguished the subspecies based on chromosome number, number of spores per sporangium, spore size, and range. Mickel and Smith (2004) did not recognize the subspecies, merely viewing the different forms as cytotypes. As in the similar case of A. cochisensis, we are continuing to follow Benham and Windham (1993) in recognizing the two reproductively distinct cytotypes as subspecies. They separated the taxa as in the following key. However, the two are not readily recognizable morphologically. The symmetrically deeply lobed pinnae readily distinguish this species. Burlage (1968) reported this species as toxic to livestock. Burrows and Tyrl (2001), however, found that A. sinuate does not produce adverse effects, and that the toxic species is the related A. cochisensis (sometimes in the past treated as Notholaena sinuate var. cochisensis (Goodd.) Weatherby).

subsp. mexicana D.M. Benham
(of Mexico)

Local names: mexican scaly cloak fern

2n = 58 (Benham & Windham 1993). Rocky slopes and cliffs on various substrates; Brewster Co. (V.L. Cory 40288, TEX-LL, annotated D.M. Behnam), and Jeff Davis Co. (Lundell & Lundell 14253-A, 13123, TEX-LL, annotated D.M. Benham); known in TX only from the Chisos Mts., Brewster Co. and the Davis Mts., Jeff Davis Co. (Benham & Windham 1993), though several ambiguous specimens from the Sierra Diablo Mts. of Culberson Co. (e.g., Correll 13757, TEX-LL) and from Presidio Co. (e.g., C.L. York 48042, TEX-LL) are possibly this subspecies; NM and TX; also Mexico and Central America. Sporulating summer–fall. This sexual diploid is apparently quite rare in the U.S. Because of its rareness and limited distribution in the state, we consider this subspecies to be of conservation concern in TX.

subsp. sinuata

wavy scaly cloak fern

n = 2n = 87 (Benham & Windham 1993). Rocky slopes and cliffs on various substrates; mainly Trans-Pecos and Edwards Plateau but scattered to the s and e in Anderson (E.N. Plank s.n., fide Correll 1956), Austin (E.H. Boyd s.n., fide Correll 1956), Comal, McMullen, and Webb (TEXLL; Correll 1956) cos.; mostly sw U.S. (AZ, NM, and TX) but disjunct to GA (e.g., Meriwether Co.; Allison & Stevens 2001); also Mexico, West Indies, Central and South America. Sporulating summer–fall. [Acrostichum sinuatum Lag. ex Sw., Cheilanthes sinuate (Lag. ex Sw.) Domin, Notholaena sinuata (Lag. ex Sw.) Kaulf.] This subspecies is reported to be an apogamous triploid derived via autopolyploidy from the diploid subsp. Mexicana (Benham 1989; Benham & Windham 1993). Wavy scaly cloak fern is one of a number of ferns found primarily in the sw or w U.S. with isolated disjunct populations in the southern Appalachians (see discussion on page 31). Reports of the species from OK (e.g., USDA PLANTS 2011) are apparently based on nomenclatural confusion involving collections of Astrolepis integerrima (previously known as Notholaena sinuate var. integerrima) that is well known from three localities in OK (Smith 2010).

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