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Cheilanthes (lip ferns)[2] is a genus of about 180 species of rock-dwelling ferns with a cosmopolitan distribution in warm, dry, rocky regions, often growing in small crevices high up on cliffs. Most are small, sturdy and evergreen. The leaves, often densely covered in trichomes, spring directly from the rootstocks. Many of them are desert ferns, curling up during dry times and reviving with the coming of moisture. At the ends of veins sporangia, or spore-bearing structures, are protected by leaf margins, which curl over them.

A cluster of fern fronds on a rock ledge
Cheilanthes pteridioides sprouting from a rock crevice
Scientific classification

Type species
Cheilanthes micropteris

See text


Chrysochosma (J.Sm.) Kümmerle
Cincinalis Gled. ex Desv.
Leptolepidium K.H.Hsing & S.K.Wu
Neurosoria Mett. ex Kuhn
Oeosporangium Vis.
Pomatophytum M.E.Jones[1]

This genus is now known to be highly paraphyletic, comprising at least four generically separate groups. The type species, C. micropteris, is most closely allied to the genera Aleuritopteris and Sinopteris (Schuettpelz et al.). In the early 21st century, many species, principally from the New World, were moved into the new genus Gaga and the revived genus Myriopteris. Further work remains to be done to render Cheilanthes monophyletic. Members of many other cheilanthoid genera have at times been given names in the genus.

The genus name is derived from the Greek words χεῖλος (cheilos), meaning "lip," and ἄνθος (anthos), meaning "flower."[3]

Selected speciesEdit



  1. ^ a b "Genus: Cheilanthes Sw". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-10-05. Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  2. ^ a b "Cheilanthes". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2011-10-23.
  3. ^ Moran, Robbin Craig (2004). A Natural History of Ferns. Timber Press. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-88192-667-5.
  4. ^ C. cavernicola International Plant Names Index (IPNI) 13 Jan 2012