I was recently in New Plymouth, where I took the opportunity to visit Pukekura Park. Aside from its lovely cricket ground, the Park is of course notable for its plants.
One of the botanical highlights for me was king fern, probably best seen at the Park in the appropriately named King Fern Gully, where it is dominant in the understory.
Ptisana salicina is king fern’s scientific name, a recent revision from Marattia salicina.
Para is the Maori name. The bracts at the base of the frond were a prized Maori delicacy.
In decline. Unfortunately, introduced mammals also like eating king fern, and it is now rare in the wild.
King fern assumedly occurs naturally at Pukekura Park, but it has also clearly been planted in some parts of the Park.
A more glorious tropical cousin. The large glossy fronds of king fern are eye-catching, but those of the tropical Angiopteris ferns are even bigger and, I think, more impressive.