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A comprehensive description of the Filicophyta (ferns) from the Late Triassic Molteno Fm., Karoo Basin, South Africa is made. This is based on an overall collection of over 27,000 catalogued slabs from 100 assemblages (taphocoenoses), 50 of which include ferns. These are placed conservatively in three orders and three named families, including 18 species in 7 genera of fertile fems and 30 species in 15 genera of infertile material (of the latter, 18 species in 8 genera are known only from sterile fronds). The total filicophyte diversity, after consideration of likely and possible affiliations, is 34 species in 14 genera. A few of these may prove to be fern-like gymnosperms.
The material is almost invariably disarticulated. At only one locality, Kannaskop, has a complete fern (Rooitodites integra) comprising rhizomes, fronds and sporangia been found. This can be compared with the extant Todea barbara still growing in South Africa.
A census of the ferns thus far described from the Gondwana Triassic (Molteno included) amounts to a total of 40 genera with 124 species. The most diverse fern flora, with 23 genera and 46 species, is from the well-sampled and recently revised Middle Triassic Nymboida Coal Measures of New South Wales, Australia.