Doryopteris concolor (Fern taxa)

General description: 

Doryopteris concolor (Langsd. & Fisch.) Kuhn is a fern which belongs to the family Pteridaceae. The word concolor means uniform in colour (Roux, 2003). Its common name is the Hand Fern due to having fronds (large divided leaves) shaped like hands (Arab Times, 2011) and also the Oak Leaf Fern (Lockyer Valley Regional Council, n.d.).

Doryopteris concolor is a perennial herb (Florabase: The Western Australia Flora, 1997), meaning it persists for many growing seasons and lives for more than two years (Simpson, 2010).It lives 6 to 20 years long and is terrestrial. It is a dark green and delicate fern (Cook Islands Biodiversity Database, n.d.) and has evergreen leaves and stems (Nothern Land Manager, n.d.). It is 20-30cm in height and grows in the crevices of rocks, in deep ditches and in dense areas of vines (Florabase: the Western Australia flora, 1997).It is found in tropic and subtropic environments including northern Australia. It has a stipe (leaf stem) that is shiny and dark brown to black in colour (Spencer, 1995).

Doryopteris concolor is nowadays generally placed in the genus called Chelianthes (Spencer, 1995). According to Cook Islands Biodiversity Database (n.d.), Doryopteris concolor is commonly called the Cheilanthes fern in Cook Island (Cook Islands Biodiversity Database, n.d.).

Conservation status: 

The IUCN threat status of Doryopteris concolor has not been evaluated (Encyclopedia of life, n.d.). It is native to Western Australia and has a conservation status of "not threatened" (Florabase: the Western Australia Flora, 1997).


Doryopteris concolor has no known threats in Western Australia (Florabase: the Western Australia Flora, 1997). 

Diagnostic description: 

Rhizomes are short and grow horizontally under or along the ground. The scales on the rhizome are thin, shaped like triangles, are up to 3mm and have a brown central stripe and pale boundary areas also known as margins. The scales are sometimes unevenly ridged towards the base and the top of the scales are thin. The fronds have only one form. The stalk from the root to where the leaves begin of the plant (stipe) is crowded and the upper part of the stalk is a black to brown colour. The stipe is shiny, smooth and has no ridges except from a few scattered scales like the ones on the rhizome, and a few short brown hairs. The upper surface of the stipe has slight slits. The angles between the upper surface and the sides of the stipe are closely elevated and the stipe has the form of a cylinder near the base. The expanded portion of each leaf (lamina) is divided into three parts. The lamina has 2 to 3 leaflets on each side of the axis, is shaped like a triangle and has rounded projections. The lamina is 3 to 9cm long and wide which is half the length of the stipe and is leathery. The segments of the lamina have rounded projections on both boundaries (margins) with a few pointed projections too. On the side towards the base the lobes at the base of the lamina are well defined. The upper segments of the lamina extend downwards on the primary rachis which is the main stem of a leaf that has leaflets. The rachis has separated scales and the upper surface of the rachis along with the main veins of the compound leaves (costae) are black to brown in colour and shiny. The minor veins on the compound leaves are free, shaped like a fork and not able to be seen by the naked eye. Sori (which are a cluster of sporangia where spores are produced) are uninterrupted along the edge of the leaf except for close to the axis of the rounded projections (lobes) and in the indentations between the lobes (sinuses). The membrane that covers the sori known as the indusium is straight, thin and uninterrupted. The spores have a two layered wall, one which is smooth and even known as the exospore and then an outer covering which is wrinkled and creased called the perispore (Bostock, n.d.). 

Taxon biology: 

Doryopteris concolor is known as a resurrection fern. This is because its fronds curl inwards when they dry out. It is able to survive long periods of dry weather. The fern can completely dry out (known as desiccation) and when it becomes wet again the fronds resume their normal function in just a few hours (Bostock, n.d.). Doryopteris concolor has been recorded fertile from May to August (Smith, 1992). It has up to 12 fronds per plant, 64 spores per sporangium (Roux, 2003) and a root system which sets it in the ground. It has no dormant period and is known as epilithic, meaning it grows on the surface of rocks (Roux, 2003).


Doryopteris is a genus of around 25 to 35 species occurring throughout tropical regions of the world (Roux, 2003). Two non-endemic species are located in Western Australia (Bostock, n.d.). The species Doryopteris concolor is poorly known and there is little to no literature which discusses the evolution of it. 


There is no information on the phylogeny of Doryopteris concolor


Doryopteris concolor is found in tropical regions of the world. Specific locations are South and Central America and southern and tropical Africa (Flora of Zambia, n.d.). It is widespread throughout sub-Saharan Africa (Roux, 2003). It is also found in South China, India (Chandra & Srivastava, 2003),   Sri Lanka, The Philippines, New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa (Bostock, n.d.) and Australia (Chandra & Srivastava, 2003).In Australia it can be found in northern New South Wales, eastern Queensland, the Northern Territory and northern Western Australia (Bostock, n.d.). It is found in the Kimberley region of northern Western Australia. In the Kimberley the key areas in which Doryopteris concolor grows is Drysdale River National Park, a creek off the Calder River and Mt Jameson (Smith, 1992). Doryopteris concolor is also found in an island called Cook Island which is located in the South Pacific Ocean and it is considered nationally endangered there (Cook Islands Biodiversity Database, n.d.).

In order to view the locations of Doryopteris concolor in Western Australia, click on the following link:


Doryopteris concolor grows in montane areas (mountains or areas of high elevation) (Chandra & Srivastava, 2003). It is often found at altitudes of 750-1500 metres. Landforms in which Doryopteris concolor inhabits includes in ravines, on earth mounds and at the base of boulders (Flora of Zambia, n.d.). It is a fern that establishes itself in deeply shaded leaf litter and on rocks in seasonally moist evergreen forests (Roux, 2003).It is an epilithic fern (Roux, 2003) and lithophytic fern meaning it grows on rocks, frequently on limestone (Bostock, n.d.).  Sometimes it is found in sheltered damp areas of woodland or open forest but most commonly in rainforests (Bostock, n.d.). It thrives in moist soils (University of Connecticut, 2013), especially brown to red loam (Florabase: the Western Australia flora, 1997) and grows best in high humidity (Arab Times, 2011).


There is no information about the uses of Doryopteris concolor. 

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith