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Vascular Plants of California
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Pentagramma pallida
FROSTY SILVERBACK FERN


Higher Taxonomy
Family: PteridaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Common Name: BRAKE FAMILY
Habit: 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.
Genera In Family: +- 40 genera, 500 species: worldwide, especially dry areas. Note: CA 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 CA also being clarified using molecular phylogenetics.
eFlora Treatment Author: Ruth E.B. Kirkpatrick, Alan R. Smith & Thomas Lemieux, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Alan R. Smith, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: PentagrammaView DescriptionDichotomous Key


Common Name: GOLDBACK or SILVERBACK FERN
Habit: Plant in soil or rock crevices; rhizome short-creeping-decumbent, generally 3--5(8) mm wide, scales lance-linear, mid-stripe dark. Leaf: stipe 5--20(32) cm, 0.5--2(3) mm wide, generally brown to red-brown (+- black); blade generally 2--3-pinnate, 2--8(15) cm, triangular or generally 5-sided, with white or yellow wax-like exudate ("farina") abaxially, with exudate or not adaxially, main axis shallowly to deeply grooved adaxially; proximal-most pinnae more strongly developed on basal side; veins free. Sporangia: along veins +- throughout abaxial leaf surface; segment margins unmodified, recurved or not.
Species In Genus: 6 species: western North America. Etymology: (Greek: 5 lines, for leaf blades) Note: Isolated within cheilanthoid ferns; most closely related to remainder of "hemionitid" clade (otherwise represented in California by Aspidotis; see Schuettpelz et al. 2007 Mol Phylo Evol 44:1172--1185; Windham et al. 2009 Amer Fern J 99:68--72). Comprises a puzzling complex of chemical, chromosomal, and morphological variants (see Yatskievych et al. 1990 Amer Fern J 80:9--17), recently recognized to include six distinct diploid lineages (treated here as species) and unnamed auto- and allo-polyploids (each diploid species except P. pallida implicated in formation of at least one allopolyploid; Schuettpelz et al. 2015 Syst Bot 40:629--644). In most plants a wax-like exudate densely covers leaves abaxially; "green-backed" plants with sparse abaxial leaf exudate tend to be sterile hybrids with malformed spores (Smith et al. 1971 Amer J Bot 58:292--299). Species descriptions and key adapted from Schuettpelz et al. (2015 Syst Bot 40:629--644).
eFlora Treatment Author: Carl J. Rothfels, Ruth E.B. Kirkpatrick, Alan R. Smith, Thomas Lemieux & Edward Alverson
Pentagramma pallida (Weath.) Yatsk., Windham, & E. Wollenw.
NATIVE
Habit: Rhizome tip, including scales, covered with white exudate. Leaf: stipe dark brown to generally +- black, with white exudate; blade 2--8(12) cm, pale to olive green, both surfaces with white exudate; proximal pinnae 2--6(8) cm. Chromosomes: 2n=60.
Ecology: Generally in or near granitic soil, rock, boulders; Elevation: 100--1200 m. Bioregional Distribution: CaRF, SN, ScV(?), SCoRI. Note: Pentagramma pallida, the species most often segregated from the P. triangularis complex (e.g., Smith 1980 Amer J Bot 58:292--297; Yatskievych et al. 1990 Amer Fern J 80:9--17), is more closely related to P. triangularis s.s. than either is to the other four species (see Schuettpelz et al. 2015 Syst Bot 40:629--644).
Synonyms: Pityrogramma triangularis (Kaulf.) Maxon var. pallida Weath.
Jepson eFlora Author: Carl J. Rothfels, Ruth E.B. Kirkpatrick, Alan R. Smith, Thomas Lemieux & Edward Alverson
Unabridged Reference: Chromosome count by Love et al. (1977 Cytotaxonomical Atlas of the Pteridophyta).
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Botanical illustration including Pentagramma pallida

botanical illustration including Pentagramma pallida

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Citation for this treatment: Carl J. Rothfels, Ruth E.B. Kirkpatrick, Alan R. Smith, Thomas Lemieux & Edward Alverson 2016, Pentagramma pallida, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, Revision 4, http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=77118, accessed on November 19, 2019.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2019, Jepson eFlora, http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/eflora/, accessed on November 19, 2019.

Pentagramma pallida
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© 2013 Aaron Schusteff
Pentagramma pallida
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© 2011 Barry Breckling
Pentagramma pallida
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© 2005 Keir Morse
Pentagramma pallida
click for enlargement
© 2011 Barry Breckling
Pentagramma pallida
click for enlargement
© 2011 Barry Breckling
Pentagramma pallida
click for enlargement
© 2013 Aaron Schusteff

More photos of Pentagramma pallida in CalPhotos



Geographic subdivisions for Pentagramma pallida:
CaRF, SN, ScV(?), SCoRI.
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map of distribution 1
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.