Pteris multifida

Pteris multifida Poir.
(Latin: multi-, many, and -fidus, cleft, = many cleft or much divided, in reference to the highly divided leaves)

Local names: spider brake, Huguenot fern, fern, Chinese brake, saw-leaf bracken

Leaves evergreen (10–)25–60 cm long; leaf blades 10–35 cm long,10–25 cm wide, essentially glabrous, at least partially 2-pinnatifid; pinnae 3–7 pairs, lanceolate to linear, those in at least the distal (= toward the apex) 1⁄2 of mature leaves decurrent on the conspicuously winged rachis (rachis wing constricted distal to each pair of pinnae); basal and sometimes the medial pinnae with 1–2 lobes or pinnules (at least some pinnae are deeply palmately 3-divided, except on the leaves of young plants, which can have palmately compound leaves with three unlobed pinnae), the distal pinnae simple; sterile pinnae wider than fertile pinnae, with margins serrulate to serrate; fertile pinnae entire to serrate near apex; 2n = 116 (Nauman 1993b). Masonry of old brick buildings, calcareous sandstone talus blocks, and sandy soils of woods; Fayette (D.H. Riskind s.n., 1977, BRIT, TEX-LL), Jefferson (Cory 49988, BRIT), Newton (C. Allen et al. 19630, BRIT), Hardin (J.L. Blassingame 2329, BRIT; B.C. Tharp 44408, SRSC, TAES; Correll 29389, TEX-LL; Soxman 1945), and Montgomery (Turner et al. 2003) cos. in East TX and Cameron Co. (R. Runyon 4265, “on east side of a brick wall,” TEX-LL) at the very s tip of TX; naturalized se U.S. from MD s to FL w to AR (where it occurs on tufa) and TX, also s CA, IL, IN, KY, and NY. Sporulating Jun–Dec. Native of e Asia. [Pycnodoria multifida (Poir.) Small] According to Correll (1956), this species “… was cultivated on many of the older plantations in the Deep South where it still persists. It has escaped in many areas into the nearby woods and can now be found some miles from its original point of cultivation. It is so completely at home in some places in east Texas that it must be considered as naturalized.” According to Nelson (2000), P. multifida “was first discovered in the U.S. in 1868 in a Huguenot cemetery in Charleston South Carolina; hence, one of its common names, Huguenot fern. The common name ‘spider brake’ is likely in reference to the spiderlike appearance of the deeply-divided leaves.” As noted by Peck (2011a), this species is apogamous and “readily capable of producing new sporophytes from single spores.”

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