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Cheilanthes krameri

 
 
 

 
https://08511630493324166816.googlegroups.com/attach/6b61205260da93ab/Fern,M'war-DSCN9282.JPG?part=0.1&view=1&vt=ANaJVrE3ZnS09FFqjuD3TYnJ_cN7lFxDeTPrQN9pynpHYaM5ByV8Enm_qbOjgsqypINPCMy8BWi4urXHGImn9ozZJ1enUgFe5l2CcLsxwOVHvh4oqOqnZJM

Fern for ID : 280711 : AK-2: Taken at Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra on the 30/11/09.
Was growing wild in a number of places and locals were referring it as 'Sanjeevani'.
This should be Silver fern, Chelianthes argenta.
if back side of leaves is silver in colour & strm is maroon black nelu
in hindi madicinal uses in tribes of jharkhand Chelianthes sps.
This is indeed an Aleuritopteris species (Cheilanthes in a wide sense), and to identify species of this fairly complex genus one needs to see the scales on the underneath of the stipe and rachis, which are not visible in this photo. In addition this is a very immature or baby plant, not full size and not of adult-type morphology, and this again makes it more difficult to identify. If I had the specimen in hand so I could see the scales and the underneath I could probably make a definite determination, but from this photo alone it is going to have to be a bit of an approximation! I find very often that because people don't necessarily know what features one has to show, for each individual genus, photos are sent to me that are frequently quite inadequate.
However two things help to pin this one down:
1. the bottom right-hand frond shows a "bullulate" upper surface - lots of wrinkles impressed in the lamina along the veins and bluging up a bit between the veins - the plant is such a baby one that the bullulate upper surface is not yet fully developed, but it is definitely there in at least that frond. If I have interpreted this properly and it is really one of the bullulate species, this narrows it down to A. grisea, A. stenochlamys, A. bullosa and A. formosana. [A. grisea and A. stenochlamys are high-Himalayan species not present anywhere in C. or S. India, despite mistaken reports of the former; A. bullosa is only in S. India, not up in the northern W. Ghats]
2. It is from Mahabaleshwar - only three species occur there - A. bicolor, A. anceps and A. formosana. Thus it appears that this must be A. formosana. To confirm this please ask the collector to look at the stipe scales, they should be small and narrow and with a narrow dark stripe along their centre - bicolorous. Chromatography of the white, not really "silver", farina beneath the lamina (provided it is not all washed off by alcohol with insecticide on the herbarium-specimen) would also allow one to identify it precisely as all these species have a very distinct composition and number of flavinoids in the farina. But easier just to collect a mature plant instead! It appears most likely therefore to be A. formosana.
Incidentally A. argentea (C. argentea) was described from China and has a very different shape of lamina, and scales at the stipe-base. It would certainly not be down there - its only locality from India so far is up at 12000 ft. in the northernmost rim of North Sikkim on the Tibet border. I was lucky enough to find it unexpectedly up behind the Annapurna Himalaya at 3000 + metres near Jomsom in N.C. Nepal a few years ago, though it's common in the cold, dry hills around Beijing in North China. But it was not known from India until recently, despite imprecise earlier records.
Just to emphasisie the importance of precise and correct, informed identification, the local name and traditional medicinal use in Jharkand almost certainly refers to one of the other species, A. bicolor, or A. anceps - which have very different chemical composition. One can't just cross-transfer information about one area to another unless one has really ensured the precise identity of the species concerned. This kind of confusion happens very frequently unfortunately, especially with comments about poisoning of cattle by Pteridium aquilinum - a European species not present in India, where it is replaced by a distinct species with distinct genetics and chemicals, P. revolutum, though some of the nasty chemicals are the same.
About Sanjeevani - many botanists beleieve Sanjeevani may be Selaginella bryopteris, which is another "resurrection plant" that comes to life again in the wet season and dries up in the Winter. S. bryopteris is sold in bazaars all over India as Sanjeevani and is rather impressive in the difference between the dry state and the fresh-green wet state. Thus symbolically plants that can do this seem like the Sanjeevani. But it is more accurate to say that a number species do this, pteridophytes and non-pteridophytes, and certainly most Aleuritopteris species do it too, so are often called Sanjeevani. So do a whole lot of Asplenium (A. ceterach is a fine example, covered in scales), Notholaena marantae - another very good, scaly example. Actual identification of Sanjeevani - apart from by tradition - is not really possible as it wasn't described in sufficient detail. But tradition seems to favour the Selaginella and Aleuritopteris species.
Cheilanthes bullosa - but it is in young stage
My apologies that once again I am unfortunately obliged to be doubtful of that identification as C./A. bullosa.  While A. bullosa is one of the species that does have a bullulate upper surface, as I mentioned, it is not known (that is from a compendium of c. 100 herbaria holding Indian collections that I studied for monographic revision work on this genus) from as far north as Mahabaleshwar.  It occurs from Karnataka southwards- only in the southern part of the Western and Eastern Ghats.
       I did not mention that the big diagnostic difference between A. bullosa and the common and widespread A. formosana (syn. C. brevifrons) is that A. bullosa has concolorous, reddish scales on the stipe, whereas A. formosana [and A. anceps] has narrower, bicolorous brown and pale-brown scales on the stipe - with a central band or streak of darker brown. This is a major difference between two groups in Sect. Farinosae [C. farinosa itself is not present in India] and is of considerable taxonomic importance in this genus.
     So if the collector would care to provide a photo that would enable the identification of this species, by showing the scales on the stipe against a light background we can easily prove that it is not A. bullosa.

   
 
 
 
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