Polypodiaceae With Red New Growths

by Chuck Nishihira

While hiking in the El Cope area in Panama, I was caught off guard when I came across this fern in the family Polypodiaceae that had bright red new leaves.  I could try to take a guess at the genus, like maybe a Pleopeltis.  Probably the best thing to do would be to just identify it down to the family for now.  It’s not uncommon to see new leaves that are red in fern genera like Adiantum, Blechnum, and others.  But, I don’t recall seeing this bright color in a trailing polypodiaceae.  The rhizomes are thin and climb around the branches. Every few inches a leaf is produced.  It appears to go from red to a light peachy color and then to green.  This particular plant was not a large specimen, but it had at least four growing tips, as there were four red leaves.  Very attractive!  Hopefully, someone out there knows what this is and can let us know!