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Marsh fern family
Starr 041221-1892 Pneumatopteris sandwicensis.jpg
Cyclosorus cyatheoides
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Class: Polypodiopsida
Order: Polypodiales
Suborder: Aspleniineae
Family: Thelypteridaceae
Ching ex Pic. Serm. 1970[1]

Thelypteridaceae is a family of about 900[2] species of ferns in the suborder Aspleniineae (polypods II) of the order Polypodiales.[3][4][5]

The ferns are terrestrial, with the exception of a few which are lithophytes (grow on rocks).[5] The bulk of the species are tropical, although there are a number of temperate species.[5]

These ferns typically have creeping rhizomes. The fronds are simply pinnate to pinnate-pinnatifid. There is either no frond dimorphism or only mild dimorphism, either open venation or very simple anastomosing. The sori are mostly reniform in shape and have indusia, except for the Phegopteris group.


At one time,[specify] all thelypterioid ferns were included in the genus Dryopteris because of the sorus shape. However, there are a great many differences between the groups, and these plants are now segregated in their own family.[2]

Some researchers include the entire family Thelypteridaceae in the genus Thelypteris; others divide the family into as many as 30 genera. An intermediate position is to place the bulk in Thelypteris (which can then be divided into subgenera and sections corresponding to the genera of other authors) but to separate out Phegopteris and Macrothelypteris.[2] Another choice is to divide the family into a half a dozen or so genera.[5]

This family includes several complexes of species that are difficult to distinguish, and seem to represent a remarkable evolutionary radiation.

Recent genetic evidence shows that the family is clearly monophyletic. The same genetic studies show that the traditional genus Phegopteris is, in fact, a clearly segregate group that diverges at the very base of the family tree. In fact, this particular clade also includes the genera Pseudophegopteris and Macrothelypteris, which are here included in the larger genus Phegopteris. Similarly, Coryphopteris is included here in the genus Metathelypteris, Parathelypteris is included in Amauropelta, and a large group of genera are included in Cyclosorus.

The most recent molecular phylogenetic study divides the family into two major clades:

Phylogenetic relationships[edit]

The following cladogram for the suborder Aspleniineae (as eupolypods II), based on Lehtonen (2011),[6] and Rothfels & al. (2012),[7] shows a likely phylogenetic relationship between the Thelypteridaceae and the other families of the clade.

Aspleniineae (eupolypods II)












  1. ^ Thelypteridaceae Ching ex Pic. Serm. Missouri Botanical Garden. 24 Jan 2012
  2. ^ a b c "Thelypteridaceae". Flora of North America.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Maarten J. M. Christenhusz, Xian-Chun Zhang & Harald Schneider (2011). "A linear sequence of extant families and genera of lycophytes and ferns" (PDF). Phytotaxa. 19: 7–54.
  5. ^ a b c d Alan R. Smith, Kathleen M. Pryer, Eric Schuettpelz, Petra Korall, Harald Schneider & Paul G. Wolf (2006). "A classification for extant ferns" (PDF). Taxon. 55 (3): 705–731. doi:10.2307/25065646.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Samuli Lehtonen (2011). "Towards Resolving the Complete Fern Tree of Life" (PDF). PLoS ONE. 6 (10): e24851. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024851. PMC 3192703. PMID 22022365.
  7. ^ Carl J. Rothfels; Anders Larsson; Li-Yaung Kuo; Petra Korall; Wen- Liang Chiou; Kathleen M. Pryer (2012). "Overcoming Deep Roots, Fast Rates, and Short Internodes to Resolve the Ancient Rapid Radiation of Eupolypod II Ferns". Systematic Biology. 61 (1): 70. arXiv:cond-mat/0606434. doi:10.1093/sysbio/sys001. PMID 22223449.