Cheilanthes is a genus of xerophytic ferns. This is somewhat of an oxymoron, since ferns typically inhabit moist environments. However, Cheilanthes species are apogamous. This explains how they can reproduce in dry habitats, but not how they can survive in arid settings. One possible explanation is that Cheilanthes species have morphological and physiological adaptations that enhance their survival. For example, Cheilanthes feei and Cheilanthes lanosa, two common and widespread North American ferns, are characterized by tomentose or hirsute trichomes beneath their pinnae. Another possible explanation for Cheilanthes' ability to survive dry habitats is the formation of mycorrhizal associations. In this study, we examined C. feei and C. lanosa to investigate the potential presence and distribution of mycorrhizal associations in these ferns. Without variation, VA mycorrhizal structures were present in C. feei and C. lanosa sporophyte roots. Results suggest that these common Cheilanthes species survive, in part, through mycorrhizal associations.

Key words: Cheilanthes feei, Cheilanthes lanosa, sporophytes, VA mycorrhizae