Athyrium Roth

Athyrium is a large genus with 160-220 species and center of diversity in southeastern Asia. A single species is native in Belgium, A. filix-femina (L.) Roth (Lambinon & Verloove 2012). The genus is very heterogeneous and clearly not monophyletic. Molecular data will surely shed new light on its circumscription. For instance, a molecular and systematic study already showed that Anisocampium C. Presl is best segregated. It includes not only Kuniwatsukia Pic. Serm. but also Athyrium niponicum (Mett.) Hance and is basal in the Athyrium complex (Liu et al. 2011). These findings were recently confirmed by Wei & al. (2017). However, pending additional studies a more conservative approach is adopted here, following Schuettpelz & al. (2016). Also because not a single unique morphological feature distinguishes Anisocampium from Athyrium, only a combination of several features of the stipe base, projections, spines and sori (Liu & al. 2011).
In addition to the native species Athyrium filix-femina the Far Eastern A. niponicum is frequently grown as an ornamental. It has been recorded as an escape.  

1. Fronds triangular with the longest pinnae below, long tapering towards apex. Stipe base not broadened === Athyrium niponicum

1. Fronds lanceolate with longest pinnae +/- in the middle, not tapering towards apex. Stipe base usually broadened (native) === A. filix-femina


Adjie B., Takamiya M., Ohta M., Ohsawa T.A. & Watano Y. (2008) Molecular phylogeny of the lady fern genus Athyrium in Japan based on chloroplast rbcL and trnL-trnF sequences. Acta Phytotax. Geobot. 59: 79–95. [available online at:]

Butters F.K. (1917) The genus Athyrium and the North American ferns allied to A. filix-femina. Rhodora 19: 170–207. [available online at:]

Ching R.-C. (1964) On some confused genera of the family Athyriaceae. Acta Phytotax. Sin. 9: 41–84.

Dyce J.W. (1970) British fern varieties - the Athyriums. Brit. Pteridol. Soc. Newslett. 8: 17-19.

Hsieh Y.T. (1986) The classification of Athyrium Roth. Bull. Bot. Res. Harbin. 6(4): 129–135.

Kato M. (1977) Classification of Athyrium and allied genera in Japan. Bot. Mag. (Tokyo) 90: 23-40. [available online at:

Kaye R. (1965) Variation in Athyrium in the British Isles. Brit. Fern Gaz. 9: 127-204.

Lambinon J. & Verloove F. (2012) Nouvelle Flore de la Belgique, du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, du Nord de la France et des Régions voisines (Ptéridophytes et Spermatophytes). Sixième édition. Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Meise: CXXXIX + 1195 p.

Liew Fah Seong (1972) Numerical taxonomic studies on North American lady ferns and their allies. Taiwania 17: 190-216. [] 

Liu Y.-C. (2008) A taxonomic study of Athyrium in Taiwan. Ph.D. thesis. National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung. [available online at:

Liu Y.-C., Chiou W.-L. & Kato M. (2011) Molecular phylogeny and taxonomy of the fern genus Anisocampium (Athyriaceae). Taxon 60: 824–830. [available online at:

Sano R., Takamiya M., Ito M., Kurita S. & Hasebe M. (2000) Phylogeny of the lady fern group, tribe Physematieae (Dryopteridaceae), based on chloroplast rbcL gene sequences. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 15: 403–413.

Schuettpelz E. & al. (2016) A community-derived classification for extant lycophytes and ferns. Journ. Syst. Evolut. 54(6): 563-603. [available online at:

Shieh W.-C., DeVol C.E. & Kuo C.-M. (1994) Athyriaceae. In: Huang. T.-C., Keng, H., Shieh, W.-C., Tsai, J.-L. (Eds.), Flora of Taiwan, vol. 1. 2nd ed. Epoch Publishing, Taipei: 414–427.

Sledge W.A. (1962) The athyrioid ferns of Ceylon. Bull. Brit. Mus. (Nat. Hist.), Bot. 2: 275–323.

Swindells P. (1968) Hardy ferns in cultivation, 3. Shield and Lady ferns. Gard. Chron., Ser. 3 163(25): 16-77.

Wang Z.-R. (1997) A revision of the Chinese Athyrium Roth (I) – Subgeneric classification of the genus. Bull. Bot. Res. 17: 274–300.

Wang M.L., Chen Z.D., Zhang X.C., Lu S.G. & Zhao G.F. (2003) Phylogeny of the Athyriaceae: Evidence from chloroplast trnL-F region sequences. Acta Phytotax. Sin. 41: 416–426.

Wang Z.-R. & Kato M. (2013) Athyrium Roth. In: Wu, C.-Y., Raven, P., Hong, D.-Y. (Eds.), Flora of China, vol. 2–3. Science Press, Beijing; Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis: 449–499. [available online at:]

Wei R., Ebihara A., Zhu Y-M., Zhao C-F., Hennequin S. & Zhang X-C. (2017) A total-evidence phylogeny of the lady fern genus Athyrium Roth (Athyriaceae) with a new infrageneric classification. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution [available online at:

Taxonomic name: 
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith