Art. L.—Notes on Ferns.
[Read before the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, 6th December, 1877.]
The writer offers a few notes on the habits and localities of some of our ferns, trusting they may be of some interest, as habitats are given not mentioned in “Hooker's Handbook.” One cannot fail to notice the great changes that are daily taking place in the natural aspect of the country. More especially is this the case in forest lands, where a vast amount of timber has been used up or destroyed within the past ten years. Ten years ago is about the date of Dr. Hooker's most valuable Handbook of the New Zealand Flora. In that work of reference, “abundant throughout the islands” is a constantly-recurring phrase as applied to ferns. This
expression would be found no longer applicable in many parts of the country.
Alsophila colensoi, Hook.
Perhaps the hardiest of our tree-fern group, it may be found in mountainous districts, sometimes in very exposed places on the outskirts of bush, at an altitude of from 2,000 feet to 3,000 feet. Trunk often absent or prostrate, exposed or covered with soil, from two to four feet long. Where fronds have been exposed to the rigour of severe winters, they assume a rich cinnamon hue. Malvern Hills; near mountain tops on Banks Peninsula.
Hymenophyllum bivalve, Swartz.
On rocks or trees, in thick masses in bushy gullies, west of Mount Somers; also plentiful on Banks Peninsula.
Hymenophyllum javanicum, Spreng.
This filmy fern flourishes near waterfalls, often in a bed of moss together with Polypodium grammitidis. Its habit is tufted, more so than is usually the case with Hymenophyllaceœ. In rocky gullies near the Rakaia Gorge; also westerly as far as the Havelock River, at about 2,200 feet above the sea.
Hymenophyllum malingii, Mett.
One of the nearest habitats of this very peculiar fern is amongst the ranges of Banks Peninsula. As, under our present system of the administration of lands, the peninsula forests will probably be exterminated at no distant date, perhaps the following notes may be worth recording.
This fern usually occupies a dry place on a decaying limb or trunk of a tree, at a distance of several feet from the ground. We have found it on Podocarpus totara, Libocedrus doniana, etc., etc. From the similarity of its varying tints and shades of greens, greys, and browns, it may be easily mistaken for a patch of lichens. We have not met with it carrying its fronds erect, as described in Hooker's “Handbook.” Its pendent fronds form thick imbricated masses; its thick woolly tomentum enables it to catch and retain moisture gathered from mountain fogs and mists; its rough rhizome creeps amongst and through the ragged strips of soft bark, and even penetrates the bark itself. The young frond, where it shoots from the rhizome, has at the swollen base of the stipe a dense patch of hair or scales; the stipe itself is sparsely sprinkled with pale brown hairs. Just below the rachis the tomentum is dense, as it is indeed over every part of the frond. The growing frond soon loses its crozier state, uncurling into a lunate form; colour buffish, changing to greyish-green with a silvery glint; the terminal divisions with the sori orange-brown. Some of the lower pinnæ are darkish-green above, reddish-brown beneath. With the
aid of a good glass, the stellate tomentum that so closely envelopes this singular plant presents a most curious and interesting appearance. We have collected this Hymenophyllum in the bush above Port Levy and Pigeon Bay, sometimes growing in company with a small form of H. bivalve.
Rhizome slender, creeping, rough, fulvous, with a few scattered tawny scales, or hairy. Stipe, base gibbous, tomentose, long, slender, 2–3 inches long; upper portion immediately below the rachis densely tomentose. Fronds pendent, narrow-oblong, 2–6 inches long, 1–1.½ inches broad, bi- tri- or quadripinnatifid; covered above and beneath with a close tomentum; upper surface greyish-green to buff, dull reddish-brown beneath. Divisions long, narrow, almost terete; sori terminal on the segments, clothed with shaggy hairs, rather dark buffish-brown; the whole frond coriaceous, stiff, rather harsh to the touch.
In the “Synopsis Filicum” it is placed next to a South American fern, H. sericum, with which it is said to be closely connected. In Hooker's “Handbook of the New Zealand Flora” it was grouped with Trichomanes.
Trichomanes venosum, Br.
On the rhizome of Todea hymenophylloides; on the stems of tree-ferns, such as Hemitelia smithii, Dicksonia squarrosa; in the bushes of Banks Peninsula, including the Port Hills.
Cystopteris fragilis, Bern.
On grassy terraces near the gorge of the Rakaia river; in Mount Guy valley in the Upper Ashburton district; River Havelock, Upper Rangitata; on the lower spurs of Mount Herbert, Banks Peninsula. Altitude of habitat varying from 500 feet to about 2,500 feet.
Adiantum diaphanum, Blume (?).
In the gorge of the Rakaia river the writer collected an Adiantum which is probably A. diaphanum. It differs somewhat from the diagnosis given in Hooker's and Baker's “Synopsis Filicum.” Should it prove to be A. diaphanum, this subalpine habitat is worth recording. The rock from whence it was taken is about 900 feet above sea-level. Stipe slender, polished, blackish, 3–4 inches long. Frond—4-6 inches long, 1–1.½ inches broad; simply pinnate, rarely with one feeble branch at the base; pinnules ½-1 inch broad, ¼-¾ inch deep; lower margin decurved; upper and outer line cuneate, texture thin, surface on both sides naked. Sori few, not contiguous.
Pellœa falcata, Br.
Amongst dry rocks, in bushy ravines, on slopes of Dun Mountain, Nelson.
Lomaria duplicata, Potts.
On referring specimens of this fern to the authorities at Kew, it was
judged to be a variety of L. procera. A plant the writer has under cultivation has nine fronds (barren and fertile) exhibiting the peculiar habit from which it was named.
L. patersoni, Spreng.
Near springs or rills in gullies and outskirts of bush on Banks Peninsula; in similar positions in the Malvern Hills it may be found growing in the greatest luxuriance, fronds giving a measurement of above 3 feet in length.
Asplenium trichomanes, Linn.
In crevices of rocks in the gorge of the Ashburton river, on the lower spurs of Mount Herbert.
A. flabellifolium, Cavan.
The finest form of this elegant fern that has fallen under the writer's notice was obtained amongst sheltering rocks in the dry bays of Lake Ellesmere.
A. falcatum, Lam.
Fine specimens on Podocarpus spicata, near Akaroa.
Aspidium aculeatum, Swartz.
Often found growing as a parasite, most frequently on aged specimens of Griselinia littoralis (broadleaf) in the bush, lying high on Banks Peninsula.
Gymnogramma leptophylla, Desv.
Abundant about the rocks in Port Cooper up to the head of the harbour. This delicate fern can be cultivated with little trouble; it is produced freely wherever the seed has been permitted to ripen; in crevices amongst moist rocks or stones it soon becomes established.
Gymnogramme alpina, sp. nov.
Rhizome dark brown, stout, ascending, clothed with brown scales. Fronds silvery-green above, oblong, narrow, 1–3 inches long, half inch broad; pinnate, densely villous, soft, thick in substance. Stipe silverygreen or brownish, tufted, stout or slender, densely villous. Pinnæ petioled, except the last three, in pairs or alternate, deltoid or cuneate, with two or three blunt irregular-shaped lobes, both sides densely villous, veins flabellate; sori ovate, numerous, covering a large portion of the under-surface of pinnæ.
A hardy perennial, growing in crevices of rocks on steep facings of the Southern Alps at an elevation of some 3,000 feet. In this habitat it withstands the rigours of winter, the severity of which is quite unknown to the dwellers near the coast. It is probably the most densely villous of all the New Zealand Filices; in its soft woolly texture and silvery-grey colours it bears close resemblance to several plants of our alpine flora. Compared with G.
pozoi, it lacks the membranous texture of that rare fern, the fronds are crowded, the pinnæ far less distant; the writer names it provisionally G. alpina, as appropriate from its habitat.
It was collected by Mr. Gray in the Upper Ashburton district.
Nothochlœna distans, Br.
In the Handbook the habitat of this deciduous fern is not particularized further than North Island, on basaltic rocks, on the authority of Colenso. The writer has obtained it in abundance on the cliffs and rocks about Port Cooper; on the rocks that wall in the creek in Church Bay it is plentiful, growing in close proximity to the much admired Cheilanthes.