Polypody Family

California Polypody © KKorbholz

Polypodiaceae (pol-ee-po-DAY-see-ee)

Iconic Features

    • Stems lightly colored and usually smooth
    • Leaves/fronds simple or 1-pinnate
    • Sori usually along frond veins
    • Indusia absent

    Description (Jepson)

      • Polypodiopsida (ferns)
        • A group of early vascular plants that produce spores (no flowers or seeds)
      • Perennial ferns from rhizomes (horizontal underground stems)
      • Fronds/leaves
        • Generally simple (not divided into leaflets) to pinnate (arranged along a common axis, like a feather)
        • Variable in texture, from very thin to fleshy or leathery
      • Stems
        • Generally green or straw-colored to brown
        • Usually not hairy
      • Sori (sacs containing reproductive cells/spores) round to oblong
        • Usually along veins, sometimes scattered or near margins on underside of frond/leaf
        • No indusium (a membrane covering sori until mature)


        • Approximately 650 species worldwide
        • Plants terrestrial, on rock, or often epiphytic (growing on other plants; not deriving moisture and nutrients directly from its host)
        • Scientific and common name from the genus Polypodium, from the Latin poly, “many,” and pody, “feet,” referring to rhizomes (underground, horizontal stems)
        • California polypody (Polypodium californicum) is the only representative of this family at Edgewood

        See General References

        Specific References

          American Fern Society. About Ferns.

            U.S. Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture. What Are Ferns?.

            Browse Edgewood Plants in this Family