Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 305, Issue 4, pp 255–268 | Cite as

The Struthiopteris spicant (Blechnaceae, Polypodiopsida) complex in Western Europe, with proposals for taxonomic and nomenclatural changes

  • Sonia Molino
  • Jose M. Gabriel y GalánEmail author
  • Pawel Wasowicz
  • Pablo de la Fuente
  • Emily B. Sessa
Original Article


Struthiopteris spicant is a medium-sized, dimorphic fern that occurs mainly in Western Europe and Western North America. The species is quite variable, with several forms differing in frond sizes and degree of dimorphism. In addition to the typical plant, in Europe two other varieties are recognized: the Iberian S. s. var. homophyllum includes plants up to 20 cm, monomorphic or subdimorphic, with fragmented cenosori; the Icelandic S. s. var. fallax comprises very small plants up to 5 cm, monomorphic, with isolated sori. Outstanding questions remain about hybridization among the different forms, their taxonomic status, and the relations between different populations. The present work aims to study additional morphological and anatomical features of the S. spicant complex in Western Europe using a statistical approach, to resolve the taxonomic position of the different forms. We observed traits ranging from the rhizome scales to the spores and used one-way ANOVA to test for significant differences between all varieties and PCA to determine whether plants assigned to different varieties can be classified statistically into distinct groups. We detected significant differences in several of the analysed traits among the varieties in the complex. Qualitative differences in pinna anatomy and epidermal cells also help segregation of the varieties considered. Our results allowed us to propose a new specific status for the Icelandic endemic var. fallax and a new endemic Spanish variety, S. s. var. pradae.


Endemism Morphology Pteridophytes Taxonomy 



The Universidad Complutense de Madrid partially supported this research through the funding of the research project PR26/16-20295 and a field trip to Iceland (International Mobility Program 2016).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have not conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights

This research did not involve any testing on humans or animals.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolution, Faculty of BiologyUniversidad ComplutenseMadridSpain
  2. 2.Icelandic Institute of Natural HistoryAkureyriIceland
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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