Plants of
South Australia
Cheilanthes austrotenuifolia
Southern Rock-fern,
Annual Rock-fern,
Green Rock-fern
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
Least concern
Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 4

Prior names

Cheilanthes tenuifolia

Common names

Southern Rock-fern

Annual Rock-fern

Green Rock-fern


Cheilanthes from the Greek 'cheilos' meaning a lip and 'anthos' meaning a flower, alluding to the lip-like indusium (thin membrane covering the sorus). Austrotenuifolia from the Latin 'austro' meaning southern, 'tenuis' meaning tough or wiry and 'folium' meaning a leaf, referring to the southern distribution of this rock fern with stiff narrow fronds. The species was split from Cheilanthes tenuifolia, which is found in the northern part of Australia.

Distribution and status

Found southern South Australia growing on banks and along streams in moist areas. Also found in Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Native. Common in South Australia. Common in the other States.
Herbarium regions: Flinders Ranges, Eyre Peninsula, Northern Lofty, Murray, Yorke Peninsula, Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island, South Eastern, Green Adelaide
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, Northern and Yorke, South Australian Arid Lands, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin, South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Slow-creeping rhizomatous fern with red-brown, dark brown or black, hairy stems and fronds scattered, or a few crowded at the tip which dies back in summer and new fronds grow in autumn. Fruits are sori (spores) on the underside margins of the fronds between the lobes, protected by the recurved margins. Seeds are very fine spores.

Seed collection and propagation

Look under the fronds and collect ones with spores and place in a seal paper bags to prevent spores from fulling out. Leave fronds in the paper bag to dry. The spores will fall off naturally or give the fronds a gentle shake. Use a very fine sieve to separate any unwanted material. Be careful as the spores are very fine. Store spores in an air tight container in a cool and dry place or in a -20oC freezer.