Dicranopteris flexuosa

Species:Dicranopteris flexuosa (Schrad.) Underw.
Common Name:Drooping Forked Fern
Habitat:Raised or sheltered embankments in the outer coastal plain
Associated Ecological Communities:**
Growth Habit:Herb
USDA Symbol:**
Plant Notes:Drooping Forked Fern is an evergreen native perennial fern in the Forking Fern family (Gleicheniaceae). It has been found at two locations in southern Mobile County near Delchamps, both in anthropogenically altered sites such as railroad banks and roadside ditches. It is a perennial from long-creeping, branched rhizomes that are covered in reddish-brown hairs. The leaves (fronds) are monomorphic, of apparently indeterminate growth, and thick and leathery in texture. The petiole is glabrous, stiff, brittle, and straw colored. The pinnae are opposite, in pairs, each pinna forked, with each fork bearing an arrested bud covered with tuft of hairs and pair of a stipule-like appendages. The pinnae are glabrous, thick and leathery in texture, with revolute margins, and glaucous below. The veins are 2--4-times forked. The sori are located on the underside of the pinnae and lack an indusium. Each sorus has 6--15 yellowish sporangia. Drooping Forked Fern is a tropical species that sometimes becomes established in small populations near the coast. These populations are usually short lived. Because its occurrence in Alabama appears to be by natural means (most likely from spores transported north by tropical storms) it is considered native. However, both sites where it been discovered were anthropogenically altered into a vertical surface, an uncommon natural habitat in the outer coastal plain.—A. Diamond
Taxonomic Notes:Dicranopteris flexuosa was first collected in Alabama in 1913. It was discovered by L.H. McNeill in a shallow railroad bank cut about 1.5 mi. E of Delchamps Station on Mon Louis Island in southern Mobile County (Maxon 1914). The collection which is curated at the US Herbarium (Smithsonian) came from a single large plant in the vertical embankment cut. McNeill visited again on 15 May 1914 and made additional specimens one of which is deposited at the University of North Carolina Herbarium (NCU). The site was visited on 3 Dec 1916 by A.H. Howell whereupon he made additional specimens which are at the US Herbarium. One of Howell's specimens includes a photo of the individual plant. Graves (1920) visited the site in 1918 but found the site had been been altered and the plant was no longer present. The species was not seen again in Alabama until 14 Jul 2020 when Gena Todia found it in the same general area but a different site.--B.R. Keener
Status:Native, FAC (NWI)
References:Maxon, W.R. 1914. A family of ferns new to the United States. American Fern Journal 4(1): 15-17.|||Graves, E.W. 1920. The Fern flora of Alabama. American Fern Journal 10(3): 65-82.
Specimen: View specimen details in the Alabama Herbarium Consortium Specimen Database

** Not applicable or data not available.


FamilyGLEICHENIACEAE - Forking Fern family
Genus Dicranopteris
Species Dicranopteris flexuosa (Schrad.) Underw. - Drooping Forked Fern


Citation Dicranopteris flexuosa (Schrader) Underwood, Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 34(5): 254. 1907.
Basionym: Mertensia flexuosa Schrad. 1824.
Type: BRAZIL: Espírito Santo: Without data, Wied-Neuwied s.n. (holotype: BR).

** Not applicable or data not available.


SynonymFull CitationBasionymType
Dicranopteris linearis var. lherminieri Dicranopteris linearis (Burman f.) Underwood, var. lherminieri (Fée) Nakai, Bull. Natl. Sci. Mus. 29: 66. 1950.Mertensia dichotoma Willdenow, var. l'herminieri Fée 1866. 
Dicranopteris pumila Dicranopteris pumila (Martius) Nakai, Bull. Natl. Sci. Mus. 29: 69. 1950.Mertensia pumila Martius 1834. 
Dicranopteris rigida Dicranopteris rigida (Kunze) Nakai, Bull. Natl. Sci. Mus. 29: 69. 1950.Mertensia rigida Kunze 1834. 
Dicranopteris scalpturata Dicranopteris scalpturata (Fée) Nakai, Bull. Natl. Sci. Mus. 29: 69. 1950.Mertensia Scalpturata Fée 1869.  
Gleichenia flexuosa Gleichenia flexuosa (Schrader) Mettenius, Ann. Mus. Bot. Lugduno-Batavi 1: 50. 1863.Mertensia flexuosa Schrader 1824. 
Gleichenia rigida Gleichenia rigida (Kunze) J. Bommer & H. Christ, Bull. Soc. Roy. Bot. Belgique 35: 174. 1896, non J. Smith 1841.Mertensia rigida Kunze 1834. 
Mertensia dichotoma var. lherminieri Mertensia dichotoma Willdenow, var. lherminieri Fée, Mém. Foug. 11: 121. 1866. GUADELOUPE
Mertensia flexuosa Mertensia flexuosa Schrader, Gött. Gel. Anz. 1824: 863. 1824. BRAZIL: Espírito Santo: Without data, Wied-Neuwied s.n. (holotype: BR).
Mertensia pumila Mertensia pumila Martius, Icon. Pl. Crypt. 111, t. 60(2). 1834. BRAZIL: Rio de Janeiro: Serra da Estrella, s.d., Martius s.n. (holotype: M).
Mertensia rigida Mertensia rigida Kunze, Linnaea 9: 16. 1834. PERU: Near Chibangata (?), s.d., Poeppig 1153 (holotype: LZ (destroyed); isotype: L?).
Mertensia scalpturata Mertensia scalpturata Fée, Crypt. Vasc. Brésil 1: 199, t. 72(1). 1869. BRAZIL

Specimens and Distribution

This species has been reported in the following counties by the herbaria listed. An overview of the individual specimens are provided in the table that follows. Click on the accession number to view details; click on column headers to sort; choose a county or herbaria to filter the specimen data.

Counties included on distribution map: Mobile

Counties represented by specimen data listed below:

Herbaria represented by specimen data listed below: ALNHS, NCU, TROY

Range of years during which specimens were collected: -

Barcode / Accession No. County Coll. Date Collector &
Collection No.
Herbarium &
Herbarium Name Used
TROY000051627 Mobile 23 Oct 2020 Diamond, Alvin R.
Dicranopteris flexuosa (Schrad.) Underw.
ALNHS00006936 Mobile 23 Oct 2020 Barger, T. Wayne
Dicranopteris flexuosa (Schrad.) Underwood
NCU00033141 Mobile 15 May 1914 McNeill, L. H.
Dicranopteris flexuosa (Schrader) Underwood
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