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Notholaena rigida Davenp. 1891

Stiff Cloakfern

Carl Rothfels
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Containing group: core Notholaena


Notholaena rigida is a Mexican endemic with an oddly disjunct distribution. Plants of extreme northeastern Mexico (Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon) are slightly larger than those of Chiapas, in extreme southern Mexico; the species is not known to occur elsewhere. Plants of the two areas differ in other ways (northern individuals have slightly asymmetrical pinnae and white farina, whereas southern individuals have symmetrical pinnae and lack farina; Mickel and Smith, 2004). Further study is needed.

This species is anomalous as a member of core Notholaena I in that it lacks hairs and scales on the leaves. Nonetheless, plastid DNA data (from one of the northern individuals) place it firmly nested in that clade, close to N. aschenborniana, of all species (N. aschenborniana is densely hairy and scaly; Rothfels et al., 2008). It does resemble the other members of that clade, however, in its linear leaf blades.


The absence of hairs and scales on the leaves distinguish this species from most other linear-leaved farinose taxa. It differs from N. lemmonii by its leaf stalk (smooth rather than grooved) and from N. meridionalis by range (in Oaxaca, where the two species could potentially overlap, N. rigida is nonfarinose) and by the presence, on N. meridionalis, of tiny hairs on the leaf upper surfaces.

Other Names for Notholaena rigida Davenp. 1891


Giauque, M. F. A. 1949. Wax glands and prothallia. American Fern Journal 39:33-35.

Mickel, J. T., and A. R. Smith. 2004. The Pteridophytes of Mexico. The New York Botanical Garden Press, New York.

NatureServe. 2008. NatureServe Explorer, Arlington, Virginia. www.natureserve.org/explorer/

Rothfels, C. J., M. D. Windham, A. L. Grusz, G. J. Gastony, and K. M. Pryer. 2008. Toward a monophyletic Notholaena (Pteridaceae): Resolving patterns of evolutionary convergence in xeric-adapted ferns Taxon 57:712-724.

Tryon, R. M. 1956. A revision of the American species of Notholaena. Contributions from the Gray Herbarium 179:1-106.

Windham, M. D. 1993a. Notholaena. Pages 143--149 in Flora of North America (Flora of North American Editorial Committee, ed.) Oxford University Press, New York.

Windham, M. D., and G. Yatskievych. 2003. Chromosome studies of cheilanthoid ferns (Pteridaceae: Cheilanthoideae) from the western United States and Mexico. American Journal of Botany 90:1788-1800.

Wollenweber, E. 1984. Exudate flavonoids of Mexican ferns as chemotaxonomic markers. Rev. Latinoamer. Quim. 15:3-11.

Title Illustrations
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Scientific Name Notholaena rigida
Location Mexico, Tamaulipas. sw of Cuidad Victoria.
Acknowledgements Specimen scanned and reproduced with permission of the University of Utah Herbarium.
Specimen Condition Dead Specimen
Collection Herbarium specimen
Collector Windham et al. 491
Image Use creative commons This media file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License - Version 3.0.
Copyright © 2008 University of Utah Herbarium
About This Page

Carl Rothfels
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Carl Rothfels at

Page: Tree of Life Notholaena rigida Davenp. 1891. Stiff Cloakfern. Authored by Carl Rothfels. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

Citing this page:

Rothfels, Carl. 2008. Notholaena rigida Davenp. 1891. Stiff Cloakfern. Version 23 December 2008 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Notholaena_rigida/133596/2008.12.23 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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