King of ferns

King of ferns

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.

King fern, para, Ptisana salicina (formerly Marattia salicina). Photo by Leon Perrie. © Leon Perrie.

One of the botanical highlights for me was king fern, probably best seen at the Park in the appropriately named King Fern Gully, where it is dominant in the understory.

King Fern Gully, Pukekura Park. Photo by Leon Perrie.
Reproductive structures of king fern, on undersides of fronds. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Leon Perrie.

Ptisana salicina is king fern’s scientific name, a recent revision from Marattia salicina.

Para is the Maori name. The bracts at the base of the frond were a prized Maori delicacy.

Bracts at the base of the fronds of king fern. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Leon Perrie.

In decline. Unfortunately, introduced mammals also like eating king fern, and it is now rare in the wild.

King fern assumedly occurs naturally at Pukekura Park, but it has also clearly been planted in some parts of the Park.

NZ Plant Conservation Network webpage for king fern.

A more glorious tropical cousin. The large glossy fronds of king fern are eye-catching, but those of the tropical Angiopteris ferns are even bigger and, I think, more impressive.

Angiopteris evecta, Sydney Botanic Gardens. Photo by Leon Perrie.


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