World Botanical Associates Web Page
Prepared by Richard W. Spjut
Pellaea andromedifolia (Pteris andromedifolia Kaulfuss 1824) Fée 1852. Coffee fern. Fronds numerous in rounded clumps, to 1 m high and 2 m or more broad, with an erect reddish stipe, and wide horizontally spreading leafy portion, generally thrice divided, ultimate segments egg-shaped, rounded to apex; sporangia in continuous marginal sori, the leaf margin appearing thickened and curled under. A California-Baja California chaparral-woodland species extending into southern Oregon, also in the Channel Islands, mostly below 5,000 ft. Type from California. Kern Co.: “A common and widespread fern, occurring in all the Upper Sonoran associations and reaching the desert's edge at Alphie Spring in Jawbone Canyon” (Twisselmann), often north-facing rocky slopes with mixed deciduous hardwood-pine woodlands in alliances of Pinus sabiniana, Quercus douglasii, Q. wislizeni (MCV2), 243–1523 m (CCH). Causes perforated intestines to sheep that graze on this plant, also referred to as “stick gut” (Twisselmann). One other species in Kern County, Pellaea mucronata (Allosorus mucronatus D. C. Eaton 1856) D.C. Eaton 1859, distinguished by relatively tufted fronds and mucronate leaf segments; four others in California.
Unusual fern for growing in open sunny dry places, especially around granite boulders, thus, drought tolerant; in cultivation, frequent watering reportedly necessary 1st yr. An aqueous-ethanol extract of Pellaea nana (Hooker 1858) Bostock 1998 stem-leaf collected from Queensland showed activity in WM (Dec 1970, P. falcata var. nana), but interest in the plant was dropped due to in inconsistent activity; no active agents reported, alkaloid detected (Collins et al. 1990).