Plants mostly terrestrial, sometimes tree ferns (like small trees), rarely scandent. Rhizome mostly erect, or creeping or scandent, usually dictyostelic (Stenochlaena meristelic), scales brown, entire. Fronds monomorphic or dimorphic, mostly long stipitate; stipe with 2 to several vascular bundles, scaly at base; lamina pinnate, pinnatifid, or bipinnatifid, rarely simple, thickly papery to leathery, glabrous or usually with small scales; pinnae rarely articulate to rachis (Stenochlaena); veins free or anastomosing with 1 or more series of areoles, without included free veinlets. Sori elongate or continuous along vascular network or commissure on either side of midrib, indusiate, rarely exindusiate, rarely acrostichoid; indusium facing toward costa or costule; annulus longitudinal, interrupted. Spores elliptic, bilateral, monolete.
About (2-)14 genera and ca. 250 species: worldwide, but with greatest diversity in the S tropics; eight genera and 14 species (one endemic) in China.
Stenochlaena has been separated as the sole genus of Stenochlaenaceae or Blechnaceae subfamily Stenochlaenoideae. Christenhusz et al. (Phytotaxa 19: 48-49. 2011) listed seven genera of Blechnaceae but indicated that the actual number of genera was very uncertain and could be anywhere between two and nine, depending mainly on a better understanding of Blechnum.
Shing Kunghsia. 1990. Stenochlaenaceae. In: Ching Renchang & Shing Kunghsia, eds., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 3(1): 94-97; Wu Shiew-hung. 1999. Blechnaceae. In: Wu Shiew-hung, ed., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 4(2): 192-215.