Plants of
South Australia
Cheilanthes sieberi ssp. sieberi
Mulga Fern,
Narrow Rock-fern
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Near threatened
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Data deficient
Coober Pedy
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 2

Prior names

Cheilanthes clelandii

Cheilanthes tenuifolia ssp. sieberi

Common names

Mulga Fern

Narrow 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). Sieberi named after Franz Wilhelm Sieber (1785-1844), a Bohemian botanist and plant collector who travelled to Europe, the Middle-east, Southern Africa and Australia.

Distribution and status

Found across South Australia except the north-east and south-west corners growing in rock crevices or on rocky slopes in mountain ranges and rocky outcrops in arid areas. Also found in all other States. Native. Common in South Australia. Common in the other States.
Herbarium regions: North Western, Lake Eyre, Gairdner-Torrens, Flinders Ranges, Eastern, Eyre Peninsula, Northern Lofty, Murray, Yorke Peninsula, Southern Lofty, South Eastern, Green Adelaide
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Erect fern to 40 cm tall. Fronds clustered or scattered to 40 cm long and 5 cm wide; hairless or hairy, divided into segments which are lobed, with margin toothed and turned down. This subspecies differ from the other subspecies found in South Australia, Cheilanthes sieberi subsp. pseudovellea, which has a covering of fine white hairs on both sides of the lamina and sometimes the stipe. Fruits are sori (spores) on the underside margins of the fronds between the lobes. 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.