Fern Species in Marlborough

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Ferns are a kind of vascular plant that reproduce via spores rather than seeds, and go through two distinct phases in their lifecycle including the commonly recognised sporophyte generation, and a small, shorter lived gametophyte form that produces sperm and eggs. Ferns require water in order to reproduce, but once sporophytes are established, some can survive harsh environments, and many can be found growing as epiphytes on trees and shrubs, or sometimes even on artificial structures. 

New Zealand has 226 indigenous fern species which is modest compared to a number of other countries, however the abundance and wide distribution of ferns in New Zealand ecosystems makes up for the modest range of varieties. Ferns can be found from coastal areas to all but the highest alpine environments. Over 100 species of ferns can be found throughout Marlborough from forest varieties in the temperate rainforests of the Marlborough Sounds, to the dry east coast, up to alpine regions. many ferns are adapted to shady environments, and can often be found on the forest floor in native bush. Some species have self-introduced into urban environments, growing on artificial structures given the opportunity. In addition to native ferns, a number of ferns have been introduced to New Zealand deliberately as garden plants, or accidentally. Some of these are capable of becoming weedy, displacing native plants.

Fern roots of some species were eaten by Māori while others had medicinal properties. The koru design associated with an unfurling fern frond and the silver fern Cyathea dealbata (found throughout the Marlborough Sounds) are as iconic as kiwi in terms of national symbols.

Tip: If you're trying to identify a fern species, look under the fronds for a spore pattern or scales and photograph this as well as the top of the fronds if you can, as some similar fern species can be identified by their spore patterns.

Polystichum oculatum

Blue Shield Fern (Polystichum oculatum)

Blue Shield Fern (Polystichum oculatum) is a fern native to New Zealand found in lowland coastal forest and scrublands.

Cheilanthes sieberi

Cloak Fern (Cheilanthes sieberi)

Cheilanthes sieberi is a fern found at medium altitudes in dry exposed environments particularly in eastern parts of New Zealand.

Polystichum vestitum

Prickly Shield Fern, pūnui (Polystichum vestitum)

Prickly Shield Fern, pūnui (Polystichum vestitum) is a cold hardy fern endemic to New Zealand, found throughout the country.

Asplenium flaccidum

Drooping Spleenwort (Asplenium flaccidum)

Drooping Spleenwort (Asplenium flaccidum) is a fern native to New Zealand, Australia, and the Pacific, typically found in semi-shade from coastal areas to the bush line.

Huruhuruwhenua (Asplenium oblongifolium)

Huruhuruwhenua (Asplenium oblongifolium) also known as shining spleenwort is a fern endemic to New Zealand, found primarily in coastal and lowland habitats.

Rarahu / Bracken (Pteridium esculentum)

Rarahu / Bracken (Pteridium esculentum) is a common weedy fern found throughout New Zealand that provided a significant food source for Māori.

Blechnum penna-marina (Little hard fern)

Blechnum penna-marina (Little hard fern)

Blechnum penna-marina (Little hard fern) is a small fern native to New Zealand that forms a ground cover most commonly in montane habitats.

Petipeti/Crown Fern (Lomaria discolor)

Petipeti/Crown Fern (Lomaria discolor)

Petipeti/Piupiu/Crown Fern (Lomaria discolor) is a moderate sized fern endemic to New Zealand.

Pneumatopteris pennigera

Piupiu/Gully Fern (Pneumatopteris pennigera)

Pneumatopteris pennigera is a common ground fern found throughout New Zealand in Australia.

Button Fern (Pellaea rotundifolia)

Button Fern (Pellaea rotundifolia)

Button Fern (Pellaea rotundifolia) is a small endemic fern found typically in dryish rocky habitats with acidic soils throughout New Zealand.

Microsorum pustulatum

Hounds Tongue / Kowhaowhao (Microsorum pustulatum)

Hounds Tongue / Kowhaowhao is a common epiphytic fern native to New Zealand, found growing on a wide range of substrates.

Trichomanes reniforme

Kidney fern (Hymenophyllum nephrophyllum)

Hymenophyllum nephrophyllum is a small native fern with distinctive round kidney shaped fronds, found throughout New Zealand in native forests.

Kiokio  (Blechnum novae-zelandiae)

Kiokio (Blechnum novae-zelandiae)

Kiokio (Blechnum novae-zelandiae) is one of the commonest and widely distributed of New Zealand's ferns.

Pyrrosia elaeagnifolia

Leather leaf fern (Pyrrosia elaeagnifolia)

Pyrrosia elaeagnifolia is an endemic fern found throughout New Zealand, growing as an epiphyte on trees, also rock faces an artificial structures.

Necklace fern (Asplenium flabellifolium)

Necklace fern (Asplenium flabellifolium)

Asplenium flabellifolium is a widely distributed small fern indigenous to New Zealand and Australia.