Pellaea wrightiana

Pellaea wrightiana Hook.
(for Charles Wright, 1811–1885, TX collector)

Local names: Wright’s cliff-brake

Plant 15– 30(–50) cm tall; rhizome scales with 2 distinct colors, black in center with brown along margins; petioles dark brown, shiny; leaf blades 2-pinnate basally to 1-pinnate-pinnatifid distally, usually 8–25 cm long, 1–4.5(–5) cm wide, monomorphic; rachis and costae usually glabrous; pinnae attached to rachis so that their tips point } straight out or slightly towards tip of leaf, mostly with 3–9 ultimate segments each, at least the basal pin- nae with completely separate segments (pinnae truly pinnate with the terminal segment on a distinct short stalk); ultimate leaf segments narrowly oblong (occasionally oblong), apically mucronate, leathery, glabrous; 2n = 116 (Windham 1993c). Rocky areas and cliffs on various rocky substrates (acidic to mildly basic); primarily Trans-Pecos, Edwards Plateau (e.g., Burnet Co., W.R. Carr 8495, BRIT), and w Cross Timbers and Prairies, but also Tyler (Correll 13295, “on sandstone boulders,” BRIT, TEX-LL), Angelina (Upland Island Wilderness Area—J. Singhurst, pers. comm.), Austin, Hays, Travis, and Washington (Turner et al. 2003) cos. in the s part of East TX; mainly sw U.S. (AZ, CO, NM, OK, TX, and UT) and distantly disjunct in NC; also n Mexico. Sporulating Mar–Nov. [P. ternifolia (Cav.) Link var. wrightiana (Hook.) A.F. Tryon] This species has been shown to be a fertile allotetraploid derived from P. truncate and P. ternifolia (Windham 1993c). Hybrids have been reported with P. atropurpurea (they are known only from w OK), P. ternifolia subsp. arizonica (see discussion under that species), and P. truncate (see discussion under that species) (Windham 1993c). In the Edwards Plateau, the obviously mucronate ultimate leaf segments of this species quickly distinguish it from other sympatric Pellaea species. This 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). The population in North Carolina (Wagner 1965, 1972) is probably an excellent example of long-distance dispersal of spores.

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