Cheilanthes sieberi

Family Sinopteridaceae

Rock Fern

Terrestrial fern with short to medium-creeping rhizome to 4 mm diameter, bearing fronds and fine roots to 4 cm long. Can spread up to 5 cm per year.  Survives during summer by rhizome while fronds die down. Longevity indefinite.

Spores: Produced in sori on lower surface of frond. Spores at any time. Spore size 49-73 µm diameter (16 per sporangium) or 36-52 µm diameter (32 per sporangium). Spores dispersed by wind, probably no dormancy mechanism. Able to withstand high temperatures and considerable water stress. Can develop sporophyte without fertilisation (apogamy) in absence of water droplets.

Gallery images: seedling, rootstock, resprout

Ecology

  • Grassland and woodland habitat.
  • Frequent in woodland at the Australian Botanic Garden.
  • During hot weather it often dries off leaving clumps of persistent, stiff brown fronds.
  • Survives drought and immediately rehydrates following rain (resurrection plant).
  • Have increased in frequency over the last 20 years possibly due to lack of disturbance by grazing animals.
  • Resprouts after fire.

Ecology of Cumberland Plain Woodland

Cheilanthes sieberi plant