New Caledonian ferns with close relatives in New Zealand

A lot of New Caledonian species belong to fern genera that also occur in New Zealand. Some look very similar to New Zealand species, whereas others are quite different!  Here’s a few from my recent trip.

Cyathea albifrons. Like New Zealand’s silver fern (Cyathea dealbata), the fronds are white underneath. But the two species are not closely related. Cyathea albifrons was the dominant tree fern in the forested serpentine areas that we visited. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Cyathea intermedia. I’ve seen competing claims about whether New Zealand’s Cyathea medullaris or New Caledonia’s Cyathea intermedia was the world’s tallest tree fern. Having now seen them both, my vote is with Cyathea intermedia; easily. Majestically massive. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Dicksonia thyrsopteroides. Superficially similar to New Zealand’s Dicksonia squarrosa (wheki), but it is less hairy and the different-looking fertile parts of the frond are distinctive (see below). Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Dicksonia thyrsopteroides. The fertile parts of the frond, right and centre, look very different to the sterile parts, to the far left. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Trichomanes laetum. What a cute little fuzz ball! According to my books, laetum is Latin for attractive or joyful. The closest relative in New Zealand is Trichomanes elongatum. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Hymenophyllum rolandi-principis. There are lots of Hymenophyllum species in New Zealand, but I think none so elegant as this. Grows as an epiphyte in high altitude forest. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Adiantum novae-caledoniae. I suspect our DNA analyses will confirm this as being very closely related to Adiantum cunninghamii, A. fulvum, and A. viridescens of New Zealand, and Adiantum silvaticum of Australia. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Asplenium oligolepidum. An uncommon epiphyte. Preliminary DNA analyses have suggested that its relationship to New Zealand’s Asplenium oblongifolium and Asplenium obtusatum is not as close as one might suspect from its looks. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Blechnum obtusatum. Common around streams. A very handsome fern that could make a wonderful garden plant. Recalls somewhat Blechnum fluviatile or Blechnum durum, but unpublished DNA analyses indicate the closest New Zealand relatives are probably those currently classified as Doodia. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Blechnum corbassonii. A fairly common forest fern. Part of a group of New Caledonian Blechnum ferns that I found difficult to work with, but which are apparently related to Blechnum novae-zelandiae. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Blechnum diversifolium. Unusual for a Blechnum in that the frond is twice-divided. Blechnum fraseri in New Zealand does the same, and perhaps they’re related. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Sticherus montaguei. Reasonably common at the margins of upland forests. Up close it looks like Sticherus flabellatus, but it is much, much bigger. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

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