Ferns and Fern Allies in the Canberra Region

Pellaea falcata - Sickle Fern

Pellaea falcata has a erect "fishbone" habit. It gets its common name from the sickle shape of the pinnae. It is quite rare in the Canberra Region, though endemic in coastal areas. The fronds grow in spreading patches among leaf litter on the forest floor.habit It also occurs in sheltered creek gullies in the drier areas. On mature plants the fronds are typically 40 cm (16") long or a little larger.

This plant was growing in a sunny area, hence its pale colour. In shadier areas, it takes on a much darker green. The pinnae are shiny and quite leathery. This plant has lost a number of pinnae, characteristic of the species. The rhachis and stipe are covered with fine scales, some of which show in the picture. It is drought hardy and easy to grow, though, through losing some of its pinnae, and the remnant leafless stalks of old fronds, it can get a bit untidy.

young frondIn the Canberra region, the large version of P. falcata can be found, as well as a dwarf variety, var. nana. The latter gows in the drier areas in open bushland, often accompanied by Cheilanthes spp. The specimen at left was growing in the Bush above one of the southern suburbs.

The image shows it near life size. The differences in pinna shape from the larger variety are obvious. Another species, P. paradoxa, has also been described and reported from the Canberra region, but it is not clear whether the var. nana above is a dwarf form of P. falcata or of P. paradoxa.

site mapDavid Nicholls
January 1998