Notholaena aliena

Notholaena aliena Maxon
(Latin: alienus, foreign, strange, or belonging to another, Maxon [1916] did not give any reason for his choice of epithet; it is possibly in reference to the fact that when named the species was known only from Mexico)

Local names: Mexican cloak fern, foreign cloak fern

Leaves 15 cm or less long; leaf blades linear- lanceolate, 2-pinnate-pinnatifid, 3–6 times longer than wide, the lower surface with cream or pale yellow farina and narrowly lanceolate ciliate scales (magnification needed to see cilia), the upper surface with sparse covering of long lax whitish hairs (villous), the basal pinnae } the same size as adjacent pair, without greatly enlarged proximal basiscopic pinnules, the ultimate leaf segments sessile, the margins of the ultimate segments only slightly recurved. Rocky areas and cliffs, on igneous rocks (e.g., basalt ledges, among boulders); in the U.S. known only from Brewster Co. (J.W. Stanford, W.D. Pohl, & J.L. Blassingame 2521, 1973, BRIT, TEX-LL, S. Barber 183, HPC; [Chisos Mts., Black Gap Wildlife Management Area, and lower canyons of the Rio Grande River—Yarborough & Powell 2002] [Caballos Novaculite s of Marathon, Boquillos Canyon—J. Blassingame, pers. comm.]) and from Presidio Co. (Warnock 58, SRSC; E.J. Lott et al. 5528, Chinati Mts. State Natural Area, 2005, SRSC, TEX-LL); also n Mexico. Sporulating Feb–Nov. [Chrysochosma aliena (Maxon) Pic. Serm.] Windham (1993f) noted that N. aliena is closely related to N. grayi (distinguished as in the key), that it appears to reproduce by apogamy, and that it is probably triploid. Rothfels et al. (2008) reported their data confirm it to be very closely related to N. grayi, and “suggest that N. aliena may be an allopolyploid, the first reported for Notholaena s.str.” Jim Blassingame (pers. comm.), who is very familiar with this species in the field, notes that it and N. greggii are two of the most dry-adapted ferns of the Trans-Pecos—they can grow in “desert” areas with only around 8–10 inches of annual rain. Notholaena aliena is considered rare or very rare (Windham 1993f; Yarborough & Powell 2002). Because of its rareness and limited distribution in the state, we consider this species to be of conservation concern in TX.

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