Cheilanthes sp. in Black Hill, Morialta and Horsnell Gully Conservation Parks


Cheilanthes austrotenuifolia
Cheilanthes austrotenuifolia
Black Hill CP, 23 June 2003

Cheilanthes sp.
Rock ferns or cloak-ferns

Small clumping ferns. These ferns are found in damper places in the Parks, and die back in summer, to sprout again from their underground rhizomes when wetter weather comes.

The name Cheilanthes is derived from a Greek words cheilos for lip and anthos, a flower, in reference to the lip-like membrane that covers the spore-producing parts under the leaves.

Cheilanthes austrotenuifolia: the annual rock fern. This is the most common small fern we see, but the name is appears to be somewhat of an irony in our parks. 'Tenuifolia' means with slender leaves, but with fronds up to 16cm at their base, it has the widest fronds of all the Cheilanthes species in our parks. The annual rock fern can form quite large dense colonies in damper areas, unlike some other Cheilanthes species, the annual rock fern does not persist during summer, and dies back completely.

Cheilanthes austrotenuifolia
Cheilanthes austrotenuifolia
ARPA project site, Black Hill cp
Cheilanthes austrotenuifolia
ARPA project site
Black Hill Conservation Park.

Fire Response
The main way a population of the annual rock fern survives fire is vegetatively, through underground rhizomes. This means it is moderately successful in persisting after fires. It is less likely to colonise new areas after fire. While a disturbed site will increase its ability to get established in a new location, it requires a site free of competition to be successful.

Cheilanthes distans, the bristly cloak-fern. With fronds that are only 2 to 3 cm wide and as the common names suggests, hairy.

Cheilanthes sieberi ssp.sieberi: the Mulga fern, differs from the annual rock fern, with its narrower fronds, only 2 to 5 cm at the base, and the old dead fronds remain, and do not disappear. It grows in sunny situations, and is said to be poisonous to stock. It was named after Franz William Sieber, an Austrian botanist (30 March 1789 to 17 December 1844).

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Page revised 9 February 2012

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