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Vascular Plants of California
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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)
eFlora Treatment Author: Donald R. Farrar
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
Jepson eFlora Author: Donald R. Farrar
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

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Botanical illustration including Sceptridium multifidum

botanical illustration including Sceptridium multifidum


Citation for this treatment: Donald R. Farrar 2012, Sceptridium multifidum, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on November 29, 2020.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2020, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on November 29, 2020.

Sceptridium multifidum
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© 2002 Tony Morosco
Sceptridium multifidum
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© 2014 Barry Rice
Sceptridium multifidum
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© 2009 Keir Morse
Sceptridium multifidum
click for enlargement
© 2009 Keir Morse
Sceptridium multifidum
click for enlargement
© 2009 Keir Morse
Sceptridium multifidum
click for enlargement
© 2014 Barry Rice

More photos of Sceptridium multifidum in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Sceptridium multifidum:
NW, CaRH, SNH, CCo, SnFrB, Wrn
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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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All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

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 (fruiting time in some monocot genera).