Sp. Pl. 2: 1077. 1753; Gen. Pl. ed. 5, 485, 1754.

Common names: Deer ferns
Etymology: Greek blechnon, an ancient name for ferns in general
Treatment appears in FNA Volume 2.

Plants terrestrial or rarely on rock. Stems creeping to ascending or erect, slender to stout, sometimes climbing [rarely subarborescent]; scales brown or black. Leaves monomorphic or variously dimorphic, cespitose to scattered. Blades pinnatifid to 1-pinnate, rarely simple or 2-pinnate. Rachis and costae glabrous, scaly, or hairy abaxially. Veins free, often forked. Sori borne on vascular commissures parallel to costae, 1 per side, normally uninterrupted, linear, continuous along length of costa. Spores with perine smooth to variously winged or rugose. x = 28, 29, 31, 32, 34, 36.


Mostly tropical, especially Southern Hemisphere.


Species ca. 220 (3 in the flora).

Selected References



1 Leaves strongly dimorphic, fertile leaves notably more erect, longer, and with narrower pinnae than sterile leaves; sterile blades tapering at base. Blechnum spicant
1 Leaves ± monomorphic, fertile leaves only slightly longer and somewhat contracted relative to sterile leaves; sterile blades ± truncate at base. > 2
2 Blades 1-pinnate proximally and pinnatifid distally or pinnatifid nearly throughout, usually less than 50 cm; pinna margins ± entire. Blechnum occidentale var. minor
2 Blades 1-pinnate throughout, usually more than 50 cm; pinna margins ± evenly serrulate. Blechnum serrulatum