Notholaena standleyi

Notholaena standleyi Maxon
(for Paul Carpenter Standley, 1884–1963, American botanist at Field Museum of Natural History and author of Trees and Shrubs of Mexico)

Local names: star cloak fern, star fern

Leaves to 30 cm long; leaf blades broadly pentagonal, 1-pinnate-pinnatifid, deeply pinnatifid but not completely pinnate above base (casually appearing more pinnate but segments connected to one another by narrow wings of green blade tissue), 1–2 times as long as wide, the lower surface with obvious yellowish farina (sometimes pale), without scales, the upper surface glabrous, the basal pinnae much larger than adjacent pair due to the proximal basiscopic pinnules being much enlarged, the ultimate segments sessile, the margins of the ultimate segments only slightly recurved; 2n = 60 (Windham 1993f). Rocky areas on igneous and limestone substrates; widespread in the Trans-Pecos (e.g., Correll 13619, Brewster Co., BRIT; P. Zelazny 147, 157, 195, Terrell Co., SRSC; Correll & Correll 12896, TEX-LL, “Rio Grande Canyon, Langtry,” w Val Verde Co.) and scattered on the Edwards Plateau in Llano (J.W. Stanford 4514, BRIT, TEX-LL; Reverchon 1218, House Mt., BRIT, TEX-LL; Seigler 1977), Gillespie (O’Kennon 10643, BRIT), and Edwards (Turner et al. 2003) cos.; AZ, CO, NM, OK, and TX; also Mexico. Sporulating Mar–Nov. [Cheilanthes standleyi (Maxon) Mickel, Chrysochosma hookeri Kummerle, Notholaena hookeri D.C. Eaton] A record from Gaines Co. in the High Plains (Nealley 277, MSC; Seigler & Wollenweber 1983) is apparently an error based on erroneous location data (J. Blassingame, pers. comm.; J. Stanford, pers. comm.). Recent molecular research (Rothfels et al. 2008) shows that of all the species typically placed in Notholaena (e.g., by Windham 1993f), N. standleyi is most distantly related to the rest. Windham (1993f) reported that all known plants were sexual diploids, but G. Yatskievych (pers. comm.) noted that this is no longer true. Seigler and Wollenweber (1983), following up on a discussion in Correll (1956, 1966), found that there were three groups within N. standleyi that differed in soil-related requirements, were “almost distinct” geographically, and that could be visually recognized based on slight differences in farina color—they referred to them as the “yellow, yellow-green, and gold races.” The yellow and yellow-green races occur in TX. No definitive morphological characters could be found between them, and no formal taxonomic recognition has been made; further investigation is probably warranted. In dry weather, the plant appears as a cluster of dark, brittle, often broken petioles with curled leaf blades. Correll (1956, 1966) noted that when dry, the segments of the leaf blade “are rolled inward to form a tight yellow whitish ball” (see discussion on page 27). The “star-like” pentagonal leaf blades with abundant yellowish farina are distinctive. Although the leaf shape is similar to that of Bommeria hispida, that species lacks farina, the lower surface of its leaves merely being hairy (Yarborough & Powell 2002).

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