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Psilotaceae J.W. Griff. & Henfr.
the whisk fern family
The type genus is Psilotum whose name is derived from the Greek ψιλος (psilos), bare, naked, referring to the apparent nakedness of the stems. Psilotum consists of small shrubby plants of the dry tropics, the whisk ferns. The common name comes from the use of a bundle of twigs from the plant as a brush. The only other genus in the family is Tmesipteris, an epiphyte found in Australasia and New Caledonia. All members of the family lack leaves, having instead small outgrowths known as enations. These are not considered to be true leaves, as the vascular bundle is just underneath them, rather than inside them, as with leaves. Instead of true roots, they also have rhizoids, or root hairs, that anchor them to their host, and absorb moisture by capillary action. The absorption is aided by symbiotic fungi known as mycorrhizæ.
Psilotum nudum - fork fern
Photograph © Donald Simpson 2014
Page last updated 29th March 2018