Plants of
South Australia
Gleichenia microphylla
Scrambling Coral-fern,
Coral 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: 2

Prior names

Gleichenia circinata

Common names

Scrambling Coral-fern

Coral Fern


Gleichenia named after Wilhelm Friedrich von Gleichen-Russwurm (1717–1783), a German biologist, director of Berlin Botanic Gardens who developed a process of staining micro-organisms with indigo and carmine. Microphylla from the Greek 'micros' meaning small and 'phyllon' meaning leaf, referring to its fronds with small lobes (pinnules).

Distribution and status

Found southern Mount Lofty and the lower South- East in South Australia, growing in sunny damp sites around swamps and at bases of cliffs in open forest. Also found in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Native. Rare in South Australia. Rare in Queensland. Common in the other States.
Herbarium regions: Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island, South Eastern, Green Adelaide
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Scrambling fern with long-creeping rhizome forming dense thickets. Stem (rachis) of major branches with numerous and conspicuous bundles of short, shiny, amber to dark brown bristles. Frond segment to 6 cm long with lobes (pinnules) oblong-triangular, blunt; lower surface flat or slightly concave, to 3 mm long; glabrous at maturity or covered in red-brown bristles when young. Fruits are sori (spore sacks) with 2–4 sporangia grouped together on the underside margins of the fronds between the lobes. Seeds are shiny, bright yellow to yellow-brown sporangia with very fine spores.

Seed collection and propagation

Look under the fronds and collect ones with shiny, bright yellow to yellow-brown sporangia and place in a seal paper bags to prevent spores from falling 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. Spores are non-dormant, viable seed should germinate readily.