New Caledonian ferns shared with New Zealand

About 35 species of fern are found in both New Caledonia and New Zealand. That’s about 13% and 18% of the total species in each area.  Almost all of these are widespread species that are also found elsewhere in the Pacific (and beyond).

Here’s a few of them that I saw during my recent field work in New Caledonia:

Dicranopteris linearis is one of the world’s most widespread ferns. In New Zealand it is only found at geothermal sites in the central North Island, but it is widespread through the Pacific. In New Caledonia it is abundant where the vegetation is recovering from disturbance, such as in the Melaleuca savannah. From the morphological diversity present in New Caledonia, I suspect more than one species is present. Dicranopteris is distinguished from the related Gleichenia and Sticherus by the naked stems below the frond-forks. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Lycopodiella cernua is a lycophyte rather than a fern. It is often found with Dicranopteris linearis, at sites where the vegetation has been disturbed.  It gets much bigger in New Caledonia than in New Zealand. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Schizaea dichotoma, fan fern. This is just a young, unfurling frond. The red colour doesn’t last. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Tmesipteris sigmatifolia, fork fern. Grows on tree fern trunks. Seemed common in New Caledonia. Largely restricted to kauri forest in New Zealand, although other species are widespread. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Histiopteris incisa, water fern. A relative of bracken (Pteridium esculentum), but generally found at wetter sites. New Caledonian plants have a ‘tougher’ look compared to those in New Zealand. Photo Leon Perrie. (c) Te Papa.

Gleichenia dicarpa, tangle fern. Up close, New Caledonian plants look very different to those from New Zealand. We were already working on a taxonomic revision of this species. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

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