Posts tagged with fern

Queensland attractions

  • Unfurling fronds of the Ptisana (Marattia) oreades, a relative of para, New Zealand’s king fern.  Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • The attractive cycad Bowenia spectabilis.  Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Flowering inflorescence of the root parasite Balanophora.  This is related to New Zealand’s bat-pollinated Dactylanthus.  Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • New Zealanders are pretty familiar with the koru, an unfurling fern frond.  But Australia’s prickly tree fern, Cyathea leichhardtiana, does it a bit differently.  It unfurls the leafy parts of a frond only after the “stem” parts of the frond (technically the rachis and the costae) are nearly fully extended.  Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Despite my previous post, Queensland’s rainforests were far from entirely unpleasant.  The below caught me eye (and of course there were lots of interesting ferns too!). New Zealand’s king fern.

Queensland fern fieldwork

Asplenium carnarvonense is only known 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.

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. 27 of Australia’s 30 species of Asplenium occur in Queensland, which has a rich fern diversity. New… Read more »

Big travels for little ferns

Lindsaea trichomanoides. (c) Leon Perrie.

Lindsaea are small dainty ferns that are easily overlooked. Three species are indigenous to New Zealand. Recent DNA-based research (Lehtonen et al. 2010) implies that each got here independently; i.e., there were three separate dispersal events. This is because the three species in New Zealand are each more closely related to an overseas species than… 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 »

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 »