Stem scales strongly bicolored, margins brown, broad and well defined, thin, entire. Leaves 5--30 cm. Petiole brown, equal to or somewhat longer than blade, rounded adaxially, glabrous except for a few scales at base. Blade broadly pentagonal, deeply pinnatifid but not fully pinnate above base (distal pinnae connected by narrow wing of green tissue), 1--2 times longer than wide, abaxially with conspicuous yellowish farina, scales absent, adaxially glabrous; basal pinnae much larger than adjacent pair, strongly inequilateral, proximal basiscopic pinnules greatly enlarged. Ultimate segments sessile, broadly adnate to costae; segment margins slightly recurved, rarely concealing sporangia. Sporangia containing 32 or 16 spores. 2 n = 60.
Sporulating late spring--fall. Rocky slopes and cliffs, on a variety of substrates including granite and limestone; 300--2100 m; Ariz., Colo., N.Mex., Okla., Tex.; Mexico.
The low numbers of spores per sporangium in Notholaena standleyi are apparently not associated with apogamy because all plants thus far analyzed are sexual diploids (M. D. Windham, unpublished data). D. S. Siegler and E. Wollenweber (1983) identified three chemotypes in this species correlated with substrate specificity and subtle variations in farina color. These three 'races' occupy different portions of the geographic range, and further investigation may indicate that they deserve formal taxonomic recognition. A report of Notholaena standleyi from Nevada (D. B. Lellinger 1985) must be considered suspect because it is disjunct, and the closest populations in Arizona represent a different chemotype.
FNA 1993, Kearney and Peebles 1969, Wiggins 1964
Common Name: star cloak fern General: Small fern, 5-30 cm tall, from short scaly rhizomes; rhizome scales strongly bicolored, with light brown edges and a dark stripe down the center. Leaves: A dense cluster of fronds emerges directly from the rhizome; petioles are longer than the leaf blades, brown, and mostly without scales except at the base; blades broadly pentagonal, with 5 palmate segments, each of those segments in turn pinnately lobed; upper leaf surface is glabrous and the leaf underside is concpicuously yellowish-powdery. Sporangia: Sori (clusters of spore-cases) dark brown, lining the margins on the underside of the leaf; partially protected by a false indusia formed by the curled-under margin of the leaf. Ecology: Found in rocky canyons, along cliffs, and among rocks, from 1,000-6,500 ft (305-1981 m); sporulating late spring to fall. Distribution: AZ, NM, se CO, w TX, w OK Notes: This is an easily recognizable fern, because the fronds have a star shape, with the blade divided into 5 segments like fingers on a hand. Each segment is in turn pinnately lobed and bright yellow on the underside. Ethnobotany: Unknown Etymology: Notholaena is from the Greek nothos, false, and chlaina, a cloak, a reference to the incomplete indusium, while standleyi is named for the American botanist Paul Standley. Synonyms: Cheilanthes hookeri, C. standleyi Editor: SBuckley 2010, AHazelton 2017