BIO 203

Classifying the Licorice Fern

Taxonomic Classification of Licorice Fern: At a glance...

Domain- Eukarya

Supergroup- Archaeplastida

Kingdom- Plantae

Subkingdom- Tracheobionta

Phylum- Pteridophyta

Class- Filicopsida

Order- Polypodiales

Family- Polypodiaceae

Genus- Polypodium

Species- Polypodium glycyrrhiza

[Above] Licorice fern of Cougar Mountain, Washington, photo by vikisuzan 


Taxonomic Classification of Licorice Fern: Meaning Behind Classifications


Domain: Eukarya

Licorice Fern are placed into the Domain Eukarya because they contain both a nuclear envelope and membrane-enclosed organelles in each individual cell, a defining characteristic of this Domain.

Kingdom: Plantae

Supergroup: Archaeplastida

These ferns are members of the Kingdom Plantae and Supergroup Archaeplastida due to the possession of a definitive plastid developed from primary endosymbiosis.

[Above] Methylene blue stained cells containing nuclei, photo by kaibara87


Subkingdom: Tracheobionta

Phylum: Pteridophyta

Licorice Ferns belong to the Subkingdom Tracheobionta, which are the seedless vascular plants, and the Phylum Pteridophyta, which literally means "feathered plant". It fits into these two classifications because it qualifies as both a seedless vascular plant and a fern plant. Click my Phylogenetic Tree based on morphological data to view a visual of this classification. In the phylogenetic tree, licorice fern is classified in the colored sections belonging to the land plants, seedless vascular plants, and to the phylum Pteridophyta. For a more in-depth look at licorice fern's phylogenetic break down click here. 

Class: Filicopsida

Order: Polypodiales

These organisms are placed under the class Filicopsida, which are true ferns meaning that they contain megaphylls, also known as true leaves, and fall into the Order Polypodiales characterized by sporangia with a vertical annulus interrupted by the stalk and stomium; indusia laterally or centrally attached (or lost); gametophytes green, chordate, and surficial (Tryon & Tryon 1982).


[Above] Young licorice fern sporophytes, photo by Tim Roth


Family: Polypodiaceae

Licorice Fern are placed into the Family Polypodiaceae, containing sporophytes consisting of creeping rhizomes that give rise to simple, or less commonly, pinnate leaves. The rhizome and leaf axis have multiple vascular bundles arranged in a circular pattern. Another distinctive feature of the Family are small, lens-shaped sporangia that give way to naked circular or continuous sori.

Genus: Polypodium

Species: Polypodium glycyrrhiza

These ferns belong to the Genus Polypodium, comprised of epiphytic ferns with creeping rhizomes also meaning “many feet” for the rhizomes, and finally, the Species Polypodium glycyrrhiza, which in English literally means “fern having rootstock of a sweetish flavor”. Click my specific Phylogenetic Tree to view this species closest relatives. In the phylogenetic tree, the Family, Genus, and Species can be viewed. Close relatives of the licorice fern are separated from other morphologically similar species due to some of its unique characteristics. Click here to learn more about these fun and helpful facts. To find out where Polypodium glycyrrhiza be found, click here.


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