Bolbitis - Lomariopsidaceae

Bolbitis heudelotii (Bory ex Fée) Alston

Photo: P. Ballings






Gymnopteris heudelotii Bory ex Fée
Acrostichum heudelotii (Bory ex Fée) Hook.
Chrysodium heudelotii (Bory ex Fée) Kuhn
Leptochilus heudelotii (Bory ex Fée) C.Chr.

Common name


Aquatic species. Rhizome widely creeping, up to 10 mm in diameter; rhizome scales very dark brown, lanceolate, entire. Fronds spaced apart, arching, firmly membranous, transparent when submerged, trimorphic. Sterile submerged fronds: stipe 2.5-7 cm long, lamina ovate to elliptic, 7.5-17 × 3.5-7 cm, pinnate to deeply pinnatifid towards the apex, not gemmiferous; pinnae deeply pinnatifid towards the frond base, becoming subentire towards the apex, angled at ± 45° towards the apex. Sterile aerial fronds: stipe 11-16 cm long, lamina ovate to elliptic, 16-32 × 12-15 cm, pinnate, terminal portion pinnatifid, not gemmiferous; pinnae oblong-lanceolate, apex pointed, base unequally wedge-shaped, sessile to asymmetrically adnate, margins entire to widely and shallowly serrate. Fertile aerial fronds: similar to sterile aerial fronds but with the pinnae much narrower and thus more widely spaced. Sporangia either covering the whole undersurface of the pinna or in irregular patches.


Can be distinguished from other species by its trimorphic not gemmiferous fronds and its aquatic habit.


heudelotii: named after J. Heudelot, a French explorer who collected plants in Guinea and Senegal from 1828 to 1837.


Grows partly submerged in streambeds or along streambanks on deeply shaded rocks in forest, especially in waterfalls.

Distribution worldwide

An essentially tropical African species, widespread in West and East Africa and Zambia, rare in Mozambique and Zimbabwe and exceptional in Limpopo in South Africa.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Benin, Burkina Fasso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania , Togo, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form



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  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature. Pages 496 - 497. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 428 - 429. (Includes a picture).
  • Roux, J.P. (2009) Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands. Strelitzia 23, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Pages 115 - 116.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 147.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta. Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Pages 218 - 219. (Includes a picture).