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Ruth E.B. Kirkpatrick, Alan R. Smith & Thomas Lemieux, except as noted

Perennial herb, in soil or on or among rocks; rhizome creeping to erect, scaly. Leaf: generally all ± alike (or of 2 kinds, fertile, sterile), generally < 50 cm, often < 25 cm; stipe generally thin, wiry, often dark, ×-section with vascular strands generally 1–3, less often many in circle; blade generally pinnate or ± palmate-pinnate (see Adiantum), often >= 2-compound, abaxially often with glands, ± powdery exudate, hairs, or scales; segments round, oblong, fan-shaped, or other, veins generally free. Sporangia: in sori or not, marginal, submarginal, or along veins, covered by recurved, often modified segment margins (false indusia) or not; true indusia 0; spores spheric, sides flat or not, scar with 3 radiating branches.
± 40 genera, 500 species: worldwide, especially dry areas. [Windham 1993 FNANM 2:122–186] California members of Cheilanthes moved to the distantly related Myriopteris; Pellaea breweri to be moved as well, from a to-be-redefined Pellaea; traditional, often untenable limits of genera outside California also being clarified using molecular phylogenetics. —Scientific Editors: Alan R. Smith, Thomas J. Rosatti.

Key to Pteridaceae

Plant in soil or rock crevices; rhizome short- to long-creeping, scales overlapped, narrowly linear, light- to red- or medium-brown, often with dark mid-stripe. Leaf: erect, persistent, < 1 m; stipes ± cylindric, generally dark or red-brown to ± black, ± shiny, glabrous; blade 1–4-pinnate; segments generally stalked, generally free, linear to rounded, lobed or not, often folded lengthwise when dried; veins generally free. Sporangia: in ± continuous, submarginal bands, among a ± white to ± yellow exudate or not; segment margin generally recurved, generally modified; spores tan to light yellow.
± 35 species: tropics, temperate, few in Europe, 0 in Asia. (Greek: dusky, from blue-gray leaves) [Kirkpatrick 2007 Syst Bot 32:504–518] Occasionally cultivated; as defined by Tryon (1957), polyphyletic (Kirkpatrick, 2007).
Unabridged references: [Kirkpatrick, R.E.B. 2007. Investigating the monophyly of Pellaea (Pteridaceae) in the context of a phylogenetic analysis of cheilanthoid ferns. Syst Bot 32:504–518; Tryon 1957 Ann Missouri Bot Gard 44(2):125–193]
Unabridged note: Occasionally cultivated. Molecular data suggest Pellaea in the sense of Tryon (1957) is polyphyletic with monophyletic Astrolepis and Pellaea sect. Platyloma, as well as elements of Paragymnopteris and Paraceterach nested within (Kirkpatrick, 2007).

Key to Pellaea

P. mucronata (D.C. Eaton) D.C. Eaton BIRD'S-FOOT FERN
Rhizome short-creeping, branched, > 8 cm, 0.5–1 cm wide; scales ± brown, mid-stripe dark. Leaf: ± clustered, ± green to ± purple; stipe < 2(3) mm wide; blade 2–3(4)-pinnate, narrowly triangular to oblong; segments 2–6(8) mm, 0.5–2(4) mm wide, linear to oblong, with mucro. Sporangia: 64-spored.
2n=58. [Online Interchange]

P. mucronata var. mucronata
Leaf: 20–40(60) cm, 5–15 cm wide; blade 2–3(4)-pinnate; pinnae not overlapped, generally ± spreading to widely ascending; fertile segments not appearing folded in half, recurved margins not meeting abaxially.
Rocky or dry areas; 20–2400 m. Klamath Ranges, North Coast Ranges, Cascade Range, Sierra Nevada, Great Central Valley (Sutter Buttes), Central Western California, Southwestern California, East of Sierra Nevada, Mojave Desert (desert mtns and lower montane slopes, canyons); Baja California. Hybrids with Pellaea brachyptera (pinnae linear, well-spaced on elongate 2 ×-pinnate axes), Pellaea truncata (some pinnae irregularly lobed, costae ± 90° from rachis) ± common. [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. Pellaea, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Dec 1 2015

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Geographic subdivisions indicated for the distribution of Pellaea mucronata var. mucronata 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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CCH collections by month

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