Pteris is a large genus of ca. 300 species, distributed in warm-temperate and tropical zones of the world. According to Walker (1970) 10 species are cultivated for ornament whereas Page & Bennell (1986) cite 14 species that are cultivated in Europe. The two species treated below are by far the commonest ornamentals in Belgium.

The monophyly of the genus is uncertain (Chao & al. 2014). One of the species here concerned, P. vittata L., is only remotely related to the other species in this account.

In addition to those treated here in detail, a third species should be looked for, Pteris tremula R. Brown. It is one of the commonest Pteris-species in cultivation (Walker 1970) and has been reported as a regular escape in London (Edgington 2006). It is easily distinguished from both Pteris cretica and P. multifida by pinnately compound fronds, reminiscent of native Pteridium aquilinum. From the latter it is separated by glabrous fronds, lacking jointed hairs.

1       Mature fronds with more than 10 pair of simple pinnae (not divided) === Pteris vittata

         Mature fronds with up to 5 pair of pinnae. At least the lower pinnae divided === 2

2       Pinnae not decurrent to the rachis (except sometimes terminal pinnae). Pinnae often with a broad white, central stripe === P. cretica

         Most pinnae, at least the upper two-three, decurrent, forming a relatively broad-winged rachis. Pinnae usually green throughout === P. multifida


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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