fern for id.: 6 images.

Location: South-west Maharashtra, w. ghats.

Date- Jan end. 2022.

Habitat: Lithophytic, on water drenched rockface of waterfall.

  • Rhizome: Long, creeping, thick (upto 6mm diam), flattened-cylindrical, green, smooth, no scales ??. Brown roots emerging out, thickly covered with small brown scales.
  • Leaves: Stipe- cylindrical 0.5-1cm, winged for a considerable part. Small scales at base of stipe, having brown lace-like network. Lamina- simple, narrowly elliptic, 10-40 cm × 2-4cm, margin entire, apex acuminate, glabrous on both sides. Costa prominent, raised on both surfaces. Veins- Major ones prominent and distinct, 4-6 mm apart, zigzag, dichotomously branched but unclear network near margin. Areoles large, reaching upto midway from margin.

Possible id:

  1. Neolepisorus (Microsorum) zippelii
  2. Leptochilus axillaris, L. lanceolatus

iii.     Loxogramme chinensis

  1. Lepisorus  nudus

There are lots of genera that are Lithophytic & have a  narrow elliptical lamina. Most are found in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, few in Karnataka, Maharashtra).

Considering the distribution and a few characters like the thick rhizome, prominence of costa, glabrous leaves (Vs Pyrrosia sp.), I have tried to strike out some genera -finally coming to 3-4 genera that seem likely. I have been severely hampered by obtaining juvenile plants, not finding any sori/ sporangium containing leaves.

Not likely:

  1. Antrophyum sp – mostly lack costa.
  2. Grammitis attenuataElaphoglossum sp.Oreogrammitis pilifera distribution-further south in Tamil Nadu, Kerala.
  3. Pyrrosia sp have dense indument underneath.

If possible, please give me some simple hints to differentiate between all these genera having simple  elliptical leaves and lithophytic/ epiphytic habitat (in case someday I happen to go further south).

I’d say pretty definitely Leptochilus – but when they are not fertile (for most of the year) they are always a mystery!  I can’t say now if it is a young plant or a fully grown one.
But actually you are going to have to watch it and wait until its becomes fertile – I could take a wild guess leap-in-the-dark, but it is better not to.  There are many sterile herbarium – specimens one just has to say can’t be identified. So just wait and have patience and see if it’s fertile during the summer monsoon and whether any larger leaves develop showing more venation, or if it stays more like L. thw (oops, not I’m not going to say!)..


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