Queensland fern fieldwork

I was recently in Queensland, Australia, working with colleagues from the University of Melbourne to collect ferns for DNA analyses.

We were principally after the spleenwort Asplenium ferns, and drove large distances in pursuit of the different species.

Asplenium carnarvonense is known only from a few gorges in inland southern Queensland. The gorges provide respite for ferns and other moisture-loving plants in what is otherwise an arid landscape. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Asplenium harmanii is a birds nest fern, related to the common cultivated A. australasicum. A. harmanii is distinguished by the tapering of its lower frond, and it is only found near the Queensland/NSW border. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Asplenium athertonense occurs in rainforest on the uplands inland of Cairns. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

27 of Australia’s 30 species of Asplenium occur in Queensland, which has a rich fern diversity. New Zealand has about 20 Asplenium species, with eight species shared across the Tasman. DNA sequencing will be used to determine how the Australian plants relate to those from New Zealand and elsewhere.

Te Papa’s fern research.

Asplenium ferns.

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