Art. LXV.—A Description of two New Zealand Ferns, believed to be new to Science.
[Read before the Hawke Bay Philosophical Institute, 14th October, 1878.]
Cyathea polyneuron, sp. nov.
Trunk stout, 12–15 feet high (garden plant 12 years old, 6 feet high, 3 feet in circumference under bases of fronds, and 2–6 at one foot above ground), densely covered with long black hairs, and marked with scars of fallen fronds.
Fronds (garden plant), 10–12, ample, grass-green colour above, paler below, gracefully drooping, 10–12 feet long, 4 feet 6 inches broad (in middle), oblong-lanceolate, membranaceous when first expanded, afterwards sub-coriaceous, tripinnate, glabrous above, floccosely hairy and woolly on veins and veinlets below.
Stipes stout, 12–15 inches long, 8–9 inches in girth at base, muricated, of a dark mahogany colour below and light yellow-green above, regularly marked with a light-coloured straight yet broken line running on both sides
from pinna to pinna the whole length of the stipe and rachis, each mark or dash, 6–8 lines long, having an interval or break of 1–2 lines; densely covered with long brown shining linear scales 1 ½–2 inches long and nearly 1 line wide at the base, curved transparent acuminate and pointed, beautifully and regularly marked, with finely serrulate edges, and having beneath them a thick rough plush-like undergrowth of blackish-brown shining finely barbed or jagged hairs.
Rachis and subrachis muricate, also densely covered with a thick coating of short dark plush-like hairs, which easily rub off; above, together with the costæ and costules densely hirsute (dark) and woolly (light-coloured).
Pinnæ alternate, 23–26 jugate, oblong-lanceolate, petiolate, (central) 2 feet 6 inches long. 10–12 inches broad, 6–7 inches distant (lower 10 inches) on rachis.
Secondary divisions or pinnules alternate, 30–32 jugate, linear-oblong acuminate and sub-caudate, 5–6 inches long, 1–1 ½ inches broad, petiolate, pinnate, thickly covered below with jagged acuminate shining silky light-coloured scales, each being curiously sprinkled with very long dark-brown hairs.
Segments alternate, 30–32 jugate, close set, linear, sub-falcate, crenatelyserrate, 9 lines long, 2–3 lines broad, widest at base, lowermost subpinnatifid petiolate and auricled downwards, barren ones broader, deeply serrate or sub-pinnatifid.
Veins very numerous, conspicuous and translucent, bi-pinnately branched; venules 10–12 in each lower lobe, and running quite out into the margin.
Sori numerous, crowded, 12–16 on a segment, one on each lobe; involucre globose, transparent green and hyaline at first, afterwards light-brown, splitting irregularly.
This tree-fern is a fine and graceful species; one that at first sight, and without examination, may be easily mistaken for C. medullaris, which it much resembles,–but differs from that species in its general hairiness and and woolliness, in its larger size of frond (breadth, etc.) and richer appearance, in its pleasing grass-green colour, its truly pinnate segments, its peculiar hairy scales and its numerous pinnate veins,–these last two marks being its specific characteristics, and its very numerous veins or venules in a lobe, the origin of its trivial name.
I have known this fern for some 10–12 years at least. In 1865–6 I found a young plant growing here on my ground (Scinde Island, Napier) among the common fern (Pteris esculenta), and removed it to my garden, where it has done exceedingly well, although last summer it suffered from the very long drought. At first, and for some years, I had supposed it to be Cyathea medullaris, but for the last four years, during which it has borne fruit abundantly, I have believed it to be a new and distinct species; having
also obtained specimens of similar plants from the eastern slopes of the Ruahine Mountain forests, as well as from smaller woods near the sea on the east coast.
In general appearance this species is by far the handsomest of our (known) New Zealand Tree-ferns, its ample fronds having much less rigidity than those of the other larger species. Of my garden-plant the fronds shoot early in spring, and grow remarkably fast, at the rate of about 4 ½ inches longitudinally per diem; the outer ones, however, die rather early in summer, owing, I believe, to the extreme dryness of the soil on the limestone hill where it is growing; and, in dying, their very large and thick stipes bend down abruptly at a few inches above their junction with the trunk, but not so as to bring the withered fronds near to the plant.
Hymenophyllumy erecto-alatum, sp. nov.
Plant terrestrial, sarmentose; rhizome glabrous; roots and rootlets densely villous with long dark-brown hairs.
Frond membranous, bright grass-green colour, 3–4 inches long, 2–3 inches broad, mostly decurved or bent, somewhat ovate, tripennatifid; main rachis, and also secondary rachises winged throughout; wings very much crisped and narrowly undulated and vertical, situated nearer to the upper surface and so giving a sulcated appearance.
Stipes distant from each other on rhizome, cylindrical, stout, woody, wiry, irregular, bent and curved, 4–5 inches long, always longer than the frond, light coloured, slightly winged above, wings decreasing gradually downwards for 1–2 in.
Segments pinnatifid; lobes narrow, very close together, obtuse and entire.
Involucres on lateral segments, rather large, sub-orbicular, open, free, lips toothed; sori semi-exserted and coloured red.
This fern is naturally allied to H. demissum (although that is a very much larger species), but in several respects it differs from it,–not even belonging to the same (artificial) section; of which Sir J. Hooker says:—“Frond pinnate below, stipes not winged, rachis winged above only.” (Handbook). In all which characters our fern widely differs; also, in its smaller size, colour, closeness of segments, involucres, clusters of sori, etc., etc. The peculiarity of its being almost vertically winged gives it a striking appearance, which, together with the bright light-green of its frond, and the red colour of its large clusters of prominent sori, catches the eye at first sight, in its fresh state. Fruitful fronds, however, are rather scarce.
Hab: Growing diffusely among roots of trees in dry forests near Norse-wood (Forty-mile Bush), Hawke Bay, 1876; and again, 1878.