An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions/Schizaeaceae

Family 4.   SchizaeàceaeReichenb.Consp. 39.   1828.
Climbing Fern Family.

Plants with erect, simple, pinnate or dichotomous, or vine-like, twining, elongate leaves, with stalked, alternate, paired and mostly palmately lobed or pinnate leafy divisions. Sporanges borne in double rows on narrow specialized lobes or segments, obovoid, pyriform or globose, sessile, provided with a transverse apical ring and opening vertically by a longitudinal slit.

Genera 4 or more; species about 125, mainly tropical.

Leaves short, tufted, rigid. 1. Schizaea.
Leaves elongate, climbing. 2. Lygodium.


1.   SchizaèaJ. E. Smith   Mem. Acad. Turin 5: 419. pl. 19. f. 9.   1793.

Mostly small plants, with erect or recurved slender filiform simple or dichotomously divided or cleft leaves. Sporanges in 2 rows along the close slender segments of small pinnate terminal spikes and partially protected by the narrowly reflexed indusiiform margin. [Greek, in allusion to the divided or deeply cleft leaf-blades of some species.]

A genus of about 25 species, of wide geographic distribution, mostly in tropical regions. Type species: Schizaca dichotoma (L.) J. E. Smith.

1.  Schizaea pusíllaPursh.
Curly-grass.   Fig. 19.

Schizaea pusilla Pursh, Fl. Am. Sept. 657.   1814.

Rootstock minute, horizontally creeping, the leaves tufted. Sterile leaves linear, very slender, flattened and tortuous. Fertile leaves longer, 3'-5' high, the fertile portion terminal, consisting of about 5 pairs of crowded pinnate divisions, forming a distichous spike; sporanges ovoid or pyriform, sessile in two rows along the single vein of the narrow incurved linear divisions of the fertile spike, partially concealed by the incurved hairy margins.

In wet soil, pine barrens of central and eastern New Jersey, the historic region. Also in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Rare and local.  Aug.-Sept.


2.   LygòdiumSw.Schrad. Journ. Bot. 1800²: 106.   1801.

Twining vine-like ferns. Leaves elongate, the rachis wiry and flextious; leafy parts consisting of the stalked palmately lobed or pinnate (or compound) secondary pinnae, borne in pairs upon short stalks arising alternately from the rachis. Sporanges borne on contracted divisions of the leaf, as short or elongate spikes, the lower surface bearing a double row of imbricate hood-like indusia fixed by their broad bases and concealing each 1 (rarely 2) sporanges. [Name Greek, in allusion to the flexible rachis.]

About 26 species, mostly of tropical distribution. Type species: Lygodium scandens (L.) Sw.

  1.  Lygodium palmàtum  (Bernh.) Sw.
Climbing-fern.   Hartford-fern.   Fig. 20.

Gisopteris palmata Bernh. Schrad. Journ. Bot. 1800²: 129.   1801.

Lygodium palmatum Sw. Syn. Fil. 154.   1806.

Rootstock slender, creeping. Stipes slender, flexible and twining; leaves 1°-3° long, their short alternate branches 2-forked, each fork bearing a nearly orbicular 4-7-lobed pinnule more or less cordate at the base with a narrow sinus; surfaces naked; fertile pinnules contracted, several times forked, forming a terminal panicle; sporanges solitary, borne on alternate veins springing from the flexuous midvein of the segments, each covered by a scale-like indusium.

In moist thickets and open woods, New Hampshire to Pennsylvania, south to Florida and Tennessee. Ascends to 2100 ft. in eastern Pennsylvania.  Summer.  Called also Creeping or Windsor-fern.