Cheilanthes wrightii

Cheilanthes wrightii Hook
(for Charles Wright, 1811–1885, TX collector)

Local names: Wright’s lip fern

Rhizomes long-creeping; leaves clustered to somewhat scattered, 4–25 cm long; petioles brown, grooved on upper surface; leaf blades lanceolate to ovate-deltate, 1–4 cm wide, 2-pinnate-pinnatifid at base, the pinnae not articulate, the u ultimate segments oblong to linear, not bead-like, the largest 3–7 mm long, glabrous on both pper and lower surfaces; costae without scales on under surfaces; rachises grooved on upper surfaces; 2n = 60 (Windham & Rabe 1993). Rocky slopes, ledges, typically on igneous materials, sometimes quite common, occasionally mixed with mat-forming Selaginella spp.; Brewster (Correll 13598, 13618, BRIT, TEX-LL, R.T. Clausen & H Trapido 9293, TAMU), Jeff Davis (Correll 13503, BRIT, TEX-LL, Whitehouse 11209, BRIT), Presidio (Correll 13744, TEX-LL), El Paso (Turner et al. 2003), and Hudspeth (Correll 1956; Yarborough & Powell 2002) cos. in the Trans-Pecos; AZ, NM, and TX; also n Mexico. Sporulating summer–fall. The combination of glabrous petioles grooved on upper side and essentially glabrous pinnae distinguishes this from somewhat similar species (e.g., C. aemula and C. alabamensis have petioles rounded on upper side). Windham and Rabe (1993) noted that it could also be confused with certain Pellaea species, but can be distinguished from all local Pellaea “by having both a grooved rachis and a thin, long-creeping stem.” This species was the focus of a recent study in which DNA barcoding exposed a case of mistaken identity in the fern horticultural trade. Plants being sold by a horticultural company in Dallas, TX as C. wrightii were discovered to actually be C. distans (R.Br.) Mett. (bristly cloak fern), native to Australia and adjacent islands. The authors of the paper noted that the molecular technique of DNA barcoding is “a valuable new technology available to the horticulture industry—not only to correct persistent errors in fern identification in the international trade, but also to protect against their overexploitation” (Pryer et al. 2010).

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