Polystichum proliferum (R.Br.) C.Presl

Mother Shield-fern

Tent. Pterid. 83 (1836) APNI

Taxonomic status:Accepted

Occurrence status:Present

Establishment means:Native

Rhizome stout, covered with dark brown scales and old frond bases; sometimes forming short trunk. Fronds tufted, erect, 25–150 cm long. Stipe short, densely scaly; scales towards base coarse, shining, dark brown with paler borders. Lamina 2-pinnate, narrowly oblong-lanceolate, pinnae length decreasing gradually towards base, dark green when mature, yellow-green when young; rachis scales numerous, narrow, fawn to rust-coloured, silky, frequently twisted, basal margins with fine projections. Bulbils usually present near tip of frond, scaly. Pinnules sometimes with large basal lobe, margins broadly toothed, apex acute; uppermost basal pinnule on each pinna frequently larger than others, aligned parallel to main rachis. Sori spherical, in 2 rows distant from margin; indusium light brown with dark centre, often shed early.

CVU, DunT, EGL, EGU, GipP, Glep, Gold, GGr, HFE, HNF, HSF, MonT, NIS, OtP, OtR, SnM, Strz, VAlp, VRiv, VVP, WaP, WPro. Also SA, Qld, NSW, ACT, Tas. Naturalized in the north island of New Zealand. Occurs in a wide range of habitats, from moist shaded areas near sea-level, sheltered gullies and tall mountain forests, to exposed basalt outcrops in the higher alps where locally common.

The yellow-green, sharply reflexed growing tip of young fronds are distinctive in the field. The bulbils, broadly serrate margins, glossy dark brown scales at stipe base, and generally oblong fronds distinguish Polystichum proliferum from P. formosum. However, although the 2 species are usually quite distinct, some P. proliferum variants from East Gippsland can have pale, almost concolorous scales and quite finely pointed teeth. These intermediates are found in the vicinity of both P. proliferum and P. formosum.

Source: Entwisle, T.J. (1994). Ferns and allied plants (Psilophyta, Lycopodiophyta, Polypodiophyta). In: Walsh, N.G.; Entwisle, T.J. (eds), Flora of Victoria Vol. 2, Ferns and Allied Plants, Conifers and Monocotyledons. Inkata Press, Melbourne.
Updated by: Val Stajsic, 2018-01-02
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Distribution map


Source: AVH (2014). Australia's Virtual Herbarium, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, <http://avh.chah.org.au>. Find Polystichum proliferum in AVH ; Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, © The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (published Dec. 2014) Find Polystichum proliferum in Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
  Bioregion Occurrence status Establishment means
Glenelg Plain present native
Victorian Volcanic Plain present native
Victorian Riverina present native
Gippsland Plain present native
Otway Plain present native
Warrnambool Plain present native
Goldfields present native
Central Victorian Uplands present native
Greater Grampians present native
Dundas Tablelands present native
Northern Inland Slopes present native
East Gippsland Lowlands present native
East Gippsland Uplands present native
Wilsons Promontory present native
Highlands-Southern Fall present native
Highlands-Northern Fall present native
Otway Ranges present native
Strzelecki Ranges present native
Monaro Tablelands present native
Highlands-Far East present native
Victorian Alps present native
Snowy Mountains present native

State distribution

Distribution map
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory