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Common polypody, Polypodium vulgare
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Division: Polypodiophyta
Class: Polypodiopsida
Order: Polypodiales
Suborder: Polypodiineae
Family: Polypodiaceae
Subfamily: Polypodioideae
Genus: Polypodium

See text.

Polypodium is a genus of ferns in the family Polypodiaceae, subfamily Polypodioideae, according to the Pteridophyte Phylogeny Group classification of 2016 (PPG I).[1] The genus is widely distributed throughout the world, with the highest species diversity in the tropics. The name is derived from Ancient Greek poly (πολύ) "many" + podion (πόδιον) "little foot", on account of the foot-like appearance of the rhizome and its branches. They are commonly called polypodies or rockcap ferns, but for many species unique vernacular names exist.

They are terrestrial or epiphytic ferns, with a creeping, densely hairy or scaly rhizome bearing fronds at intervals along its length. The species differ in size and general appearance and in the character of the fronds, which are evergreen, persisting for 1–2 years, pinnate or pinnatifid (rarely simple entire), and from 10 to 80 cm or more long. The sori or groups of spore-cases (sporangia) are borne on the back of the frond; they are globose and naked, not covered with a membrane (indusium).

Polypodies have some use in herbalism, but are today most important in horticulture where several species, hybrids, and their cultivars like Polypodium 'Green Wave' are commonly used as ornamental plants for shady locations. Polypodium have a bitter-sweet taste and are among the rather few ferns that are used in cooking; in this case as a spice e.g. for nougat.


Several of the species form hybrids with other species in the genus; these may often be distinguished by being sterile, with very small "blind" sori. As of February 2020, Checklist of Ferns and Lycophytes of the World accepted the following species and hybrids:[2]

A number of species formerly included in the genus have recently been transferred to other genera, including Campyloneurum, Cyathea, Microgramma, Nephrolepis, Pecluma, Phlebodium, Pleopeltis and Serpocaulon. Species placed elsewhere include:


  1. ^ PPG I (2016). "A community-derived classification for extant lycophytes and ferns". Journal of Systematics and Evolution. 54 (6): 563–603. doi:10.1111/jse.12229. S2CID 39980610.
  2. ^ Hassler, Michael & Schmitt, Bernd (January 2020). "Pleopeltis". Checklist of Ferns and Lycophytes of the World. Version 8.20. Retrieved 2020-02-15.

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