Posts categorized as Ferns

New Fork Fern

Banks Peninsula fork fern, Tmesipteris horomaka. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

We have just described a new species of Tmesipteris fork fern. Fork ferns are odd looking and only distantly related to other ferns. We now recognise five species in New Zealand. There are only about 15 species around the world, with Australasia their strong-hold. The new species has been named Tmesipteris horomaka. It is only… Read more »

Identifying Asplenium hookerianum in Victoria

  • Asplenium gracillimum (a hen & chickens fern), Alpine National Park, Victoria. Photo by Leon Perrie, Curator. © Museum of New Zealand.
  • Polystichum proliferum (mother shield fern), Toolangi, Victoria. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Leon Perrie, Wellington.
  • Asplenium hookerianum (left top and middle) and Asplenium flabellifolium, Alpine National Park, Victoria. Photo by Leon Perrie, Curator. © Museum of New Zealand.
  • Asplenium flabellifolium (necklace spleenwort), Northern Territory, Australia. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Leon Perrie, Wellington.

From our search in Victoria’s Alpine National Park, we suspect the rare Asplenium hookerianum (Hooker’s spleenwort) is actually much more common there than previously recognised. But more searching is needed to confirm this.  Searching for Asplenium hookerianum in Victoria’s Alpine National Park.  Asplenium hookerianum can be distinguished from the other ferns it occurs with in… Read more »

Searching for a rare Australian fern

Asplenium hookerianum (Hooker’s spleenwort), Alpine National Park, Victoria.  Photo by Leon Perrie, Curator. © Museum of New Zealand.

While visiting family in Melbourne, I took the opportunity to go fern hunting. Asplenium hookerianum is a rare fern in Australia.  With Melbourne University’s Daniel Ohlsen and Mike Bayly, we went searching for the two populations recorded from Victoria’s Alpine National Park.  How to recognise Asplenium hookerianum in Victoria. We were successful, relocating the known… Read more »

Baby ferns

Baby ferns. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Leon Perrie, Wellington.

A spot in my garden is being colonised by baby ferns. The toppling of a gum tree last year created bare ground. After a few months, this has now been smothered by little ferns, the biggest only a few cm long. Baby ferns are difficult to identify, but I suspect these are water fern (Histiopteris… Read more »

King of ferns

  • Angiopteris evecta, Sydney Botanic Gardens. Photo by Leon Perrie.
  • Bracts at the base of the fronds of king fern. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Leon Perrie.
  • Reproductive structures of king fern, on undersides of fronds. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Leon Perrie.
  • King Fern Gully, Pukekura Park. Photo by Leon Perrie.

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. Pukekura Park website. One of the botanical highlights for me was king fern, probably best seen at the Park in the appropriately named King Fern… Read more »

Desert ferns

  • Typical vegetation along the Larapinta Trail. Most of the green trees are gums. The grey trees are wattles. The low-growing clumps are ‘spinifex’ grasses. Photo by Leon Perrie. (c) Leon Perrie, Wellington.
  • Typical vegetation along the Larapinta Trail. Most of the green trees are gums. The grey trees are wattles. The low-growing clumps are ‘spinifex’ grasses. Photo by Leon Perrie. (c) Leon Perrie, Wellington.
  • Shaking Brake fern, Pteris tremula. Photo by Leon Perrie. (c) Leon Perrie, Wellington.
  • Marsilea ferns look like four-leaved clovers, and are principally aquatic. This one was in a watercourse that had dried up. Photo by Leon Perrie. (c) Leon Perrie, Wellington.

I’m just back from holiday in central Australia, near Alice Springs. Even though it was holiday, I was still plant-spotting. (I could hardly walk around with my eyes closed, could I?) There’s ferns even in the desert. Strictly speaking, it’s apparently an “arid” region, rather than desert. In any case, it was dry. But there were… Read more »

WEED ALERT – watch for horsetails!

  • Distribution of Equisetum arvense in New Zealand as indicated by verifiable specimens in Te Papa’s herbarium. Te Papa’s collection is an under-representation of this species’ full extent, having been recorded by others from Auckland, Napier, New Plymouth, Christchurch, and Dunedin.
  • Equisetum arvense is much smaller (up to 80 cm tall, but often much shorter) and is branched, whereas Equisetum hyemale is unbranched. Photo by Jean-Claude Stahl, Natural Environment Imager. Copyright Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
  • Stems of Equisetum hyemale, with the terminal ‘cones’ that produce spores. Photo by Clayson Howell, DOC. Copyright Clayson Howell, Wellington.
  • An unimpressed Jon Terry (DOC) with the Levin infestation of Equisetum hyemale. Photo by Clayson Howell, DOC. Copyright Clayson Howell, Wellington.

An infestation of a giant horsetail, Equisetum hyemale, has been found near Levin. It was spotted by eagle-eyed Department of Conservation staff. They gave us a specimen for Te Papa’s herbarium collection of dried plants.   No horsetail species occur naturally in New Zealand, but several have been purposefully or accidentally introduced. Because they are… Read more »

Is your hen and chickens fern a fake?

  • The cave spleenwort, Asplenium cimmeriorum, is related to the hen & chickens ferns but doesn't produce bulbils. It is found in limestone areas, including caves, around Waitomo and the north-west of the South Island. Photo by Leon Perrie, Curator. (c) Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
  • The false hen & chickens fern - Asplenium ×lucrosum - has dimorphic, or two very different looking, fronds on the same individual. The fronds with spore-producing structures have much narrower frond segments than fronds without. This difference in form can even occur within a single frond if it has regions with and without reproductive structures. Asplenium bulbiferum and Asplenium gracillimum do not have dimorphic fronds. Photo by Leon Perrie, Curator. (c) Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
  • Asplenium gracillimum with narrow frond segments. These resemble the fertile fronds of Asplenium ×lucrosum (see below), but they can be distinguished by all of the fronds having narrow segments, rather than having both broad (when without spore-producing structures) and narrow (when with spore-producing structures) segments. Photo by Leon Perrie. (c) Leon Perrie, Wellington.
  • Caption

Are you growing a hen & chickens fern at home? If so, chances are it’s a fake, unless you dug it out of the bush. Hen & chickens ferns get their common name from their production of bulbils, or vegetative outgrowths, on the upperside of their fronds. These bulbils are the ‘chickens’ and the fronds… Read more »

The false hen and chickens fern

Fronds with (left) and without (right) reproductive structures, of the same individual of Asplenium ×lucrosum.  Asplenium ×lucrosum inherited this frond dimorphism (having two forms) from Norfolk Island’s Asplenium dimorphum. Photo by Leon Perrie, Curator. (c) Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Most hen & chickens ferns in cultivation are the false hen & chickens fern, Asplenium ×lucrosum, rather than Asplenium bulbiferum.  The two are easily distinguished. Asplenium ×lucrosum is a sterile hybrid between Asplenium bulbiferum and Asplenium dimorphum.  The “×” preceding “lucrosum” indicates it is a hybrid. The two parent species – Asplenium bulbiferum  and Asplenium… Read more »