A Morphological and Anatomical Study of Ferns on the Campus of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana

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Ferns have aesthetic, medicinal, food and agricultural importance. Sometimes they are also used as air filters for the control of air pollution. In spite of their multipurpose use, ferns are a group of plants which are relatively less known. The ecological data of African Pteridophytes, especially ferns, still remains extremely scarce and incomplete. Identification keys for most species of ferns do not exist, thus making identification difficult. The present study was carried out to identify the different species of ferns at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) campus and to determine their habitats, diversity and relative frequency. The study involved both field and laboratory works for a period of 13 months. The species were identified using keys, pictures, figures, herbarium specimens at the KNUST, the University of Ghana, and Kew, Britain, and assistance of foreign experts. The relative frequency of the species was quantified by recording the presence or absence of the plant species in 2m x 2m randomly located quadrats in each habitat. In all eleven different fern species belonging to the following eight genera were identified: Nephrolepis, Pteris, Microsorum, Cyclosorus, Arthropteris, Thelypteris, Adian turn, and Pityrogramma. The results also showed that the family Pteridaceae had the highest number of species while the family Oleandraceae recorded the lowest number of species. Arthropteris orientalis, Thelypteris microbasis, and Nephrolepis undulata were the common species in all the habitats found at the KNUST campus. The study also showed that more of the species preferred shaded habitat. A dichotomous key was developed for easy identification of fern species.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Theoretical and Applied Biology, College of Science in partial fulfilment of the requirements for Master of Science degree, 2004