Thelypteris hispidula

Thelypteris hispidula (Decne.) C.F. Reed var. versicolor (R.P. St. John) Lellinger
(sp.: Latin: hispidus, hairy, bristly, or rough, and -ula, diminutive suffix, in reference to the diminutive hairs; var.: Latin: versicolor, of various colors or changing color, the botanist who named it [St. John] saying, “Its light-green color often turns to golden or gray as it matures and frequently the leaf-surface acquires rusty-red blotches”)

Local names: variable maiden fern, St. John’s shield fern, rough-hairy maiden fern, hairy maiden fern

Rhizomes short-creeping to ascending at tip; leaves monomorphic, evergreen; petioles straw-colored; leaf blades 14–55 cm long, broadest above base, the basal and near basal pinnae usually noticeably shorter than more distal pinnae, the basal acroscopic segment of basal pinnae sometimes auriculate and crenate; basal veins of adjacent ultimate leaf segments variable, some united below the sinus into a single vein (usually for 2n = 72 (Smith 1993a). Wooded slopes and ravines, low woods, along streams; Jasper (Correll & Correll 12538, BRIT, TEX-LL), Orange (Correll 13331, BRIT, TEX-LL), San Jacinto (Correll 13376, BRIT, TEX-LL), Sabine (BRIT), Hardin (Singhurst 2180, TEX-LL), and Houston (BAYLU) cos. in the Pineywoods; se U.S. from SC s to FL w to TX; also West Indies in Cuba. Sporulating summer and fall. [Christella hispidula (Decne.) Holttum, Dryopteris versicolor (R.P. St. John) M. Broun, T. quadrangularis (Fee) Schelpe var. versicolor (R.P. St. John) A.R. Sm., T. versicolor R.P. St. John] This species was at one time considered to be a hybrid between T. dentate and T. kunthii (e.g., Correll & Johnston 1970). However, Smith (1971a, 1971b) showed this was not possible because the supposed parents were tetraploids and this species is diploid. The species as a whole occurs widely—var. hispidula is in the Old World (Africa and Asia). Thelypteris hispidula also occurs from Mexico through South America, and Mickel and Smith (2004) noted that, “Mexican and most continental tropical American specimens seem not or only weakly distinguishable from var. hispidula in the Old World.”

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