Pteris is a genus commonly referred to as brake ferns. Its name is derived from “pteron”, meaning wing, or feather, referring to the leaves resembling feathers. The genus is represented by more than 250 species, of which 8 occur in Australia, with 2 in Western Australia, namely P. vittata and P. tremula.
Landbased fern that grows in or on rocks; lives several years. Short creeping or tufted horizontal stem; coated in flattened outgrowths. Main branches with deep furrows, branches with leaves or twice branched with leaves on last branching; flattened leaf blades smooth and glossy or covered with hairs, leaf veins parallel or form network of branches and joins. Sporangia clusters in extended line, close to leaf edges without touching, no true cluster covering, false cover formed by backward bending leaf edge.
Pteris is thought to be monophyletic, but DNA evidence suggests that the monotypic genera Neurocallis, Ochropteris and Platyzoma could share a common ancestor with Pteris. This status remains uncertain due to a lack of conclusive evidence. Species diversity is due to allopatric and parapatric speciation. Dispersal events were followed by the colonisation of niches.
Chao YS, Rouhan G, Amoroso VB, Chiou WL. 2014. Molecular phylogeny and biogeography of the fern genus Pteris (Pteridaceae). Annals of Botany, 114 (1), 109-124.
Pteris occurs in tropical and subtropical regions across the world.
Widespread in temperate to tropical areas, found particularly amongst rocks or growing from stone walls, near to streams.
Many Pteris species are common ornamental plants. Some species, such as P. vittata, are known to tolerate and accumulate high concentrations of arsenic and antimony, and have been used in bioremediation through phytofiltration, particularly in the removal of arsenic from drinking water.