Biology:Psilotum complanatum

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Psilotum complanatum
Psilotum complanatum - Lyman Plant House, Smith College - DSC04275.JPG

Apparently Secure (NatureServe)
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Class: Polypodiopsida
Order: Psilotales
Family: Psilotaceae
Genus: Psilotum
P. complanatum
Binomial name
Psilotum complanatum

Psilotum complanatum, the flatfork fern,[1] is a rare herbaceous epiphytic fern ally in the genus Psilotum. There is some evidence that it might be a true fern that has lost some typically fern-like characteristics.[2] Morphologically, the plant is simple, lacking leaves and roots, and having hanging stems with dichotomous branching, which lack developed leaves but have minute scales. The stems and branches have protostele, with a triangular-shaped core of xylem. The scales are arranged in two rows along the flat stems and branches. The stems are broadly triangular in cross section and 5 mm wide. The branches are 1.5 to 2 mm wide. P. complanatum grows 10 to 75 cm long and stems branch in pairs a number of times up their length and are covered with brownish colored hair-like rhizoids. Small stalks end with simple sporangia from the axils of minute bifid, rounded sporophylls. Bean shaped, monolete spores are produced. The spores germinate best in a dark environment when ammonium is present.[3] The gametophyte is non-photosynthetic, living in association with a fungus for its nutritional needs.[4] Plants grow from a subterranean rhizome which anchors the plant in place and absorbs nutrients by means of filament like rhizoids.

Some botanists believe P. complanatum is a survivor from a very primitive lineage of fern-like vascular plants.[3]

Psilotum complanatum lives in moist evergreen forests on the Malay Peninsula, South Australia, Fiji islands, Mexico, Hawaii and South America. In India it is reported only from the Nicobar group of islands. Plants are typically found hanging from the trunks of trees or other epiphytic plant species.[5]


  1. "Psilotum complanatum". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  2. Qiu, Yin-Long; Jeffrey D. Palmer (January 1999). "Phylogeny of early land plants: insights from genes and genomes". Trends in Plant Science 4 (1): 26–30. doi:10.1016/S1360-1385(98)01361-2. PMID 10234267. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Chuahan, Nidhi; Hitendra Padalia; Stutee Gupta; M. C. Porwal; P. S. Roy (25 July 2003). "Psilotum complanatum Sw., a rare epiphytic fern ally of Great Nicobar Island: Exploration and habitat monitoring". Current Science 85 (2): 193–197. Retrieved 2008-03-15. 
  4. Psilophyta
  5. PlantNET - FloraOnline

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