Pleopeltis polylepis

Pleopeltis polylepis (Roem. ex Kunze) T. Moore var. erythrolepis (Weath.) T. Wendt
(sp: Greek: polys, many, and lepis, scale, in reference to the leaf scales; var.: Greek erythro, red, and lepis, scale)

Local names: red-scale scaly polypody, red-scale polypody

Growing on rocks; rhizomes slender, widely creeping, scaly, the scales lanceolateacuminate to broadly lanceolate; leaves monomorphic, usually spaced 1 cm or less apart; petioles ca. . blade length; leaf blades simple, lanceolate to narrowly oblanceolate, 5–7 times longer than wide, to ca. 7 cm long, usually 0.8–1 cm wide, coriaceous, weakly hygroscopic, the margins thickened, the midribs abaxially green, the surfaces weakly scaly on upper surface, densely covered with overlapping peltate scales on lower surface, the scales broadly ovate-lanceolate, irregularly fringed-ciliate, with dark reddish brown center, margins pale brown to whitish; sori round to oval, discrete, not or only slightly sunken into blade tissue. Mats on porphyritic rocks (in Mexico on limestone); in the U.S. known only from upper Limpia Canyon in the Davis Mts., Jeff Davis Co. (Palmer 1930 cited Palmer 34378 which was collected in 1928; Correll 1956; Andrews & Windham 1993; Yarborough & Powell 2002), 2300 m; also n Mexico. Sporulating May–Sep. [Phlebodium erythrolepis (Weath.) Conz., Pleopeltis erythrolepis (Weath.) Pic. Serm., Polypodium erythrolepis Weath.] More recently (1984), Jackie Poole (pers. comm.) saw in upper Limpia Canyon a dense colony of “…hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of individuals”…[that] “only occupied about a 10 square meter area on a N-facing vertical cliff within a coniferous evergreen woodland. …” The more common, morphologically similar var. polylepis, endemic to Mexico, differs in a number of ways including having entire to erose, spheric scales on the lower surface of the blades, the scales not densely overlapping, petioles ca. 1⁄5 blade length, leaf blades 8–10 times as long as wide, with midribs abaxially green or blackened, rhizome scales ovate to broadly lanceolate, and in nearly always being epiphytic (Wendt 1980; Andrews & Windham 1993; Mickel & Smith 2004); while the n Mexico and TX populations are easily distinguished as var. erythrolepis and the c and s Mexico populations are clearly var. polylepis, there are intervening areas where “a broad range of intergradation between the varieties occurs” (Wendt 1980). 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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