The systematics of the Polypodiaceae

  • E. Hennipman
Conference paper


Concepts and methods of monographic systematic research on ferns have changed considerably during the last decades. Recently Haufler and collaborators studying Polypodium vulgare sensu lato have suggested that apart from divergent speciation in sexual diploids and hybrid speciation (e.g. allopolyploids), genetical diploidisation of hybrid species through gene silencing is an intrinsic speciation mechanism that allows the polyploid to return to diploid expression. The monographer working with herbarium material faces the problem of recognising these different types of evolutionary species and speciation mechanisms occurring in ferns. It appears that micromorphological and ultrastructural character states can help to trace evolutionary species in the herbarium. This questions the application of a broad morphological species concept in tropical floras.

The study of insufficiently known features such as venation patterns, paraphyses and sterile frond indument, improve the ability to recognise inferred monophyletic groups within the family. The recognition of monophyletic genera in the Polypodiaceae is exemplified with a discussion of genera of Platycerioideae (Platycerium, Pyrrosia) and the ant-ferns. Character analyses of selected features using traditional and new techniques show that characters of the exospore and the perispore are most liable to change. An example shows that character states of the spore may express themselves in submicroscopical and ultrastructural characteristics in a similar way in quite different evolutionary lines.


Character State Species Concept Hybrid Species Fern Species Evolutionary Species 
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

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  • E. Hennipman

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