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Alan R. Smith

Perennial herb, on plants, rocks, in rock crevices, or in soil, humus, or on dunes; rhizome short- to long-creeping, branched, glaucous to not, scaly. Leaf: ± alike or of 2 kinds, fertile and sterile; stipe thin to thick, generally straw-colored or green to brown, base persistent on rhizome; blade generally simple to 1-pinnate, membranous to fleshy or leathery; veins free to generally fused, often netted. Sporangia: sori round to elongate (linear), generally 1 per areole, in 1–several rows on each side of segment midrib; indusium 0; spores elliptic, ± smooth to coarse-tubercled or -ridged, scar linear.
± 40 genera, ± 650 species: worldwide, especially tropics; many species cultivated. —Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.

Rhizome long-creeping; scales lanceolate, generally ± brown, 1-colored or often with darker central area or midstripe. Leaf: 0.2–10(20) dm, ± alike or fertile > sterile; stipe glabrous to scaly; blade 1-pinnate to generally deeply pinnately lobed (or simple, unlobed), hairy to not, glandular or not, scales on abaxial midrib near base generally lanceolate or lance-linear, generally ± brown; veins free to fused. Sporangia: sori in 1 row on each side of segment midrib, generally raised, sometimes including sporangium-like structures, shriveled sporangia, or branched or unbranched glandular hairs; spores yellow.
± 40 species: generally New World, temperate, tropics, few boreal. (Latin: many feet, from persistent petiole bases) [Hildebrand et al. 2002 Amer Fern J 92:214–228] Identification complicated in California by fact that 2 or more co-occurring species often hybridize (often indicated by malformed spores), especially in Central Coast (especially Point Reyes), North Coast, where the sterile hybrids may outnumber the parental species, and because coastal ecotypes of several species often have thicker, more succulent blades than inland forms. Polypodium australe Fée except (dubiously reported from but not persisting on San Clemente Island).
Unabridged references: [Whitmore & Smith 1991 Madroño 38:233–248; Hildebrand et al. 2002 Amer Fern J 92:214–228]
Unabridged note: A specimen from San Clemente Island (Lloyd & Hohn 4420, UC) identified by several workers as Polypodium australe Fée, a European (Mediterranean) sp., lacks rhizome (rhizome important for identification) and definitive provenance (specimen from cultivated plant that is no longer extant so original locality data not fully trustworthy), and so is here excluded. Lloyd and Hohn (Amer Fern J 59:56–60. 1969) explained its presence as a chance introduction of spores carried on hides of European grazing animals. Apparently, it has not persisted on San Clemente Island, if in fact it ever occurred there at all.

Key to Polypodium

P. californicum Kaulf. CALIFORNIA POLYPODY
Rhizome (3)5–10 mm diam, ± glaucous or not, taste bland or acrid; scales ± 1-colored. Leaf: summer-deciduous; blade (5)10–25(35) cm, deltate to ovate, membranous to fleshy, often firm, midrib adaxially hairy to ± glabrous, segments serrate, tips obtuse to acute, veins generally 10–50% fused. Sporangia: sori 1.5–3.5 mm, round to generally ovate, generally ± sunken, flat, with short, branched, glandular hairs or not.
2n=74. Shaded canyons, streambanks, n-facing slopes, roadcuts, cliffs, coastal bluffs, rocks, often granitic or volcanic, humus, not on plants; < 1520 m. Central Coast, Outer South Coast Ranges, Southwestern California; to Baja California, southern Mexico. Hybrids with Polypodium hesperium (San Bernardino Mountains) uncommon, sterile, 2n=111. [Online Interchange]

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Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2013. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Dec 1 2015
Citation for this treatment: [Author of taxon treatment] 2013. Polypodium, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Dec 1 2015

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Geographic subdivisions indicated for the distribution of Polypodium californicum Markers link to CCH specimen records. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.