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Angiopteris angustifolia: Living fossil

Angiopteris angustifolia looks like a creature from another age – and so it is! This fern really is a living fossil. It’s survived more or less unchanged over millions of years. Angiopteris is a member of the Marattiaceae family of ferns, whose fossil record goes back more than 300 million years. This particular one in our greenhouse is only about 30 years old, and arrived here from the Philippine Islands as a young plant in 1982. Meanwhile, our Angiopteris has grown so much that its fronds cannot extend to their full five-meter length, even though the plant is in the center of the building. The fronds of some species of Angiopteris reach nine meters in length, making them the largest within living ferns.

You can easily spot members of the Marattiaceae family of ferns by a unique characteristic. Look at the base of their frond stalks – they are swollen spherically and framed by shell-like structures. When you visit the staghorn fern pavillion, look at the central ground bed to discover other, smaller representatives of this ancient fern family.



Audio file download
Angiopteris angustifolia: Living fossil (MP3, 529 KB)

Audio production and copyright: Soundgarden Audioguidance GmbH
Text: Andreas Gröger, Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg