Pellaea mucronata D. C. Eaton

Bird's foot fern

Etymology Mucronata means having a point. See Distinctive Characteristics.
Description Rhizome: short-creeping or erect, linear brown scales, black at a center stripe.
Frond: 40 cm high by 18 cm wide, evergreen, monomorphic, blade/stipe ratio: .
Stipe: dark-brown to black, shiny, flattened to slightly grooved above, color extending the entire rachis, croziers slightly hairy, mainly glabrous, vascular bundles: 1.
Blade: 2-pinnate, but lower elevation forms (see below) are more divided, lanceolate, leathery, glabrous.
Pinnae: 10 to 15 pair, bluish-green, lower pinnae stalked, upper sessile, a terminal pinna like the upper lateral ones; pinnules narrowly oblong, 5 to 20 pair with a terminal segment like the pairs; the ends of the pinnules come to a sharp point (mucronate); margins usually dentate, strongly recurved; veins obscure.
Sori: oblong or linearly joined, submarginal, indusium: false, inrolled margins, covering the entire lower surface, sporangia: pale brown, maturity: summer to fall.
Culture Habitat: among granitic rocks. Distribution: mid to lower Sierra Nevada range in California. Hardy to -15C, USDA Zone 7.
Distinctive Characteristics The sharp-pointed tips of the ultimate segments are diagnostic.
Allosorus mucronatus D. C. Eaton
Pellaea ornithopus Hooker
Pellaea mucronata subsp. californica (Lemmon) Windham
Pellaea mucronata
Pellaea mucronata. Both varieties (or subspecies) are shown in the pinna close-ups. The higher elevation, less-divided form, var. califormica, is depicted in the lower pinna.  Illustration by Edgar Paulton, from How to Know the Ferns and Fern Allies, John T. Mickel, 1979 Wm. C. Brown Co.
Subtaxa The Flora of North America distinguishes between a more divided subspecies mucronata at lower elevations (below 1800 m) in California and Nevada, and a higher elevation, less divided, i.e., 2-pinnate, subspecies californica. The lower elevation form is unlikely to be as hardy. Examples of both subspecies may be found among the photos.
Pellaea mucronata
Pellaea mucronata. habit, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens, Claremont, California.  Wikimedia Commons
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