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Sceptridium multifidum

Higher Taxonomy
Family: OphioglossaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Perennial herb, small, fleshy, generally glabrous; caudex generally underground, unbranched; roots glabrous with bulblets or plantlets or not. Leaf: generally 1 per caudex per year, divided into 2 facing parts with a common stalk,(0)1 sterile and 1(2) fertile (fertile occasionally aborted); sterile photosynthetic part (trophophore) separated from spore-bearing part (sporophore) at to well above ground level; trophophore simple to compound, veins free and forked or netted with included veinlets; sporophore simple to compound, or 0 in young pls. Sporangia: dehiscent into 2 valves, +- 1 mm wide, thick-walled.
Genera In Family: 10 genera, 80--100 species: +- worldwide, generally rare or overlooked.
Unabridged Note: Distantly related to most (leptosporangiate) ferns. Haploid (gametophyte) generation underground. Both diploid and haploid generations obligately mycorrhizal. The family Psilotaceae (whisk ferns, 2 genera), sister to Ophioglossaceae, is represented in California (SCo) by 1 (of 2 total) apparently introduced species, Psilotum nudum (L.) P. Beauv. Psilotum is easily distinguished by the dichotomously branching, almost leafless green stems, lack of roots, and large (2--3 mm) 3-lobed sporangia; sporangia are borne on the adaxial (upper) side of a minute (+- 1 mm) forked leaf. Pantrop, subtrop (nearest native populations in Arizona and in Sonora, Mexico); expected in cultivation areas, especially at bases of old palms, possibly brought in on root masses as subterranean gametophytes. [Pryer et al. 2004 Amer J Bot 91:1582--1598]
eFlora Treatment Author: Donald R. Farrar, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Alan R. Smith, Bruce G. Baldwin, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: SceptridiumView Description 

Common Name: GRAPE-FERN
Habit: Roots smooth or cork-ridged, dark gray, without bulblets or plantlets. Leaf: evergreen for 1 year; bud hairy; sporophore and trophophore joined near or at ground level; trophophore generally 2--3-pinnate, deltate to ternately triangular, fleshy, leathery, ultimate segments midribbed, veins free, forked; sporophore 1--3-pinnate, aborted in young pls. Sporangia: not sunken in axis; stalk 0 or short.
Species In Genus: 15--20 species: generally temperate to arctic or alpine. Etymology: (Greek: scepter, staff, from tall upright sporophore)

Sceptridium multifidum (S.G. Gmel.) M. Nishida ex Tagawa
Habit: Plant often robust, fleshy; roots 5 mm thick (1 cm from base), encircled by coarse, +- black, corky ridges. Leaf: bud densely hairy; trophophore stalk generally < blade, blade thick, leathery, generally +- 2--3-pinnate, < 35 cm wide, ultimate segments ovate, margins entire to shallowly crenate; sporophore stalk long, 2--3-pinnate. Chromosomes: 2n=90.
Ecology: Common. Wet meadows, edges of lakes and streams, among willows; Elevation: < 2900 m. Bioregional Distribution: NW, CaRH, SNH, CCo, SnFrB, Wrn; Distribution Outside California: to Alaska, eastern North America, Europe.
Synonyms: Botrychium multifidum (S.G. Gmel.) Rupr.; Botrychium multifidum subsp. californicum (Underw.) R.T. Clausen; Botrychium multifidum subsp. coulteri (Underw.) R.T. Clausen; Botrychium multifidum subsp. silaifolium (C. Presl) R.T. Clausen; Botrychium californicum Underw.; Botrychium coulteri Underw.; Botrychium silaifolium C. Presl
eFlora Treatment Author: Donald R. Farrar
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botanical illustration including Sceptridium multifidum


Citation for this treatment: Donald R. Farrar 2016. Sceptridium multifidum, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 29, 2016.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2016. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 29, 2016.

Sceptridium multifidum
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© 2009 Keir Morse
Sceptridium multifidum
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© 2010 Julie Kierstead Nelson
Sceptridium multifidum
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© 2010 Julie Kierstead Nelson
Sceptridium multifidum
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© 2014 Barry Rice
Sceptridium multifidum
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© 2009 Keir Morse
Sceptridium multifidum
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© 2002 Tony Morosco

More photos of Sceptridium multifidum in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Sceptridium multifidum:
NW, CaRH, SNH, CCo, SnFrB, Wrn;
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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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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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.