Art. LXI.—A Description of Three Ferns, believed to be Undescribed, discovered more than Fifty Years ago in the Northern District of New Zealand.
[Read before the Hawke's Bay Philosophical Institute, 21st October, 1895.]
Genus 4. Trichomanes, Smith.
1. T. polyodon, sp. nov.
Plant terrestrial, small, tufted, 6–8 fronds, erect, spreading, and slightly drooping, 3–5in. high (a single specimen without basal end 6 ½in., the stipe being 3 ½in.), colour darkish olive-green (? from long keeping), with a roughish appearance. Frond ovate-acuminate, 2 ½in.-3in. long, 2in.-3in. broad, membranous, bipinnate; pinnæ alternate, close, slightly imbricate, erect, patent, subfalcate, the lowermost pair subopposite, the next pair longest, pinna ovate acuminate obtuse, the inner pinnule
longest; segments cuneate, the terminal one large oblong, much laciniate, midrib flexuous branched; veins numerous, erecto-patent, stout, dark-coloured, prominent on both sides, free, venules marginal, sometimes forked at tips, excurrent, mucronate-serrate; rhachises sparingly hairy, not winged, but the upper pinnæ and pinnules slightly subpinnatifid above at axils (sursum currens), hairs long slender flexuous; stipe 1 ½in.-2in. long, firm, dry, slender, when young reddish and very hairy, hairs 2–3 lines long curved dark-red, fugacious in age. Involucre free, narrow infundibuliform, 1 line long, few, solitary on inner margin of segment, reddish; mouth open, thin, entire or slightly uneven, receptacle stout, sometimes exserted as long as involucre. Rhizome short, stout, very hairy; hairs long, enwrapping, dark, coarse. Roots stout, black, numerous, descending.
Hab. Country between lower Waikato (N.), head of Thames, and Kaipara; 1843–44: W. C.
Obs. This species will rank with T. elongatum and T. colensoi, but is very distinct from both. Its specific differential characters are good, well defined, and constant; in its peculiar and strongly-marked venation and curiously-webbed axils I know of no other species of the genus, nor of any other New Zealand fern, that approaches it; the cellular structure of the frond is also peculiar, constituting regular and large areolæ.
Genus 13. Cheilanthes, Sw.
1. C. erecta, sp. nov.
Plant small, usually sub 6in. high (a single specimen among many 8in.), tufted, erect, light-reddish-brown. Frond linear (scarcely sublanceolate), obtuse, 3in.-3 ½in. long, 6–8 lines broad; rhachis red-brown, shining, sulcated; stipe 2in.-2 ½in. long, slender, brittle, glabrous, shining, light-brown, slightly scaly, bipinnate or subtripinnate; pinnæ 8–10 pairs, distant, opposite, deltoid and subtrapeziform, obtuse, patent and suberect, diverging, thickish, flat, glabrous above, densely paleaceous-scaly below; veins few, free, dichotomous, obsolete; the lowermost pair of pinnæ smaller than the next and more distant (1in.) on rhachis; pinnules few, lowermost pair pinnate, each one composed of 3 segments, the two basal segments (or lobes) small roundish, the terminal one deltoid-acuminate and subovate, obtuse; upper segments (or lobes) sessile, opposite, sub-oblong-ovate, falcate, obtuse; apical segments of frond very small. Involucre narrow, membranaceous, continuous, entire and slightly sinuate and finely crenulate. Sori copious, pale, spreading. Scales long, sub-ovate-acuminate, flat, thin, shining, striate, flexuous, spreading, pale-brown, very close, sometimes entirely covering pinna below. The pairs of pinnæ have a peculiar regular 4-angled
somewhat semicruciform appearance, with lower pinnules largely diverging.
Hab. Same general locality as preceding; 1843–44: W. C.
Obs. This fern might be just as well placed in the genus Pellœa, though its habit is more that of several of the Cheilanthes genus; its primâ facie appearance is much like Nothochlœna distans. It is a very distinct species, and, fortunately, I have several specimens of it.
Genus 27. Lygodium, Sw.
1. L. gracilescens, sp. nov.
Plant glabrous, stems long slender numerous, twining and climbing high. Barren frond: Petiole slender, patent, 1 ½in. long, forked, diverging, each secondary petiole 4–5 lines long, bearing 5 submembranaceous pinnules linear-acuminate 2 ¾in.-3 ¼in. long, 5–7 lines wide, slightly subsinuate, margined, tip subacute, base truncate, sometimes bilobed nearly to base, petiolulate; petiolules 1–2 lines long, filiform, flat above with raised margins, semiterete below; midrib undulating, shining, light-fawn-coloured; much veined; veins alternate, free, 2–3 times forked, extending to margins, stout, prominent on both surfaces; the lowest pair of veins springing from the petiolule, which is largely articulated all round, forming a kind of little cup. Fertile frond flat, largely compound, zigzag, divaricate, loose, graceful, variously shaped in outline, generally parallelogramic, 4in.-5in. long and nearly as broad, containing 40–100 distinct distant free lobes or small pinnules, patent at right angles, of various shapes and sizes, 3–9 lines diameter, flabelliform, subtrapeziform and subpalmate, largely irregularly laciniate and squarrosely slashed, with more or less of lamina in the centre, and much veined, each on a filiform rhachis or petiolule, finely striate and shining; each pinnule bi- and tri-foliolate, when the latter then bipetiolulate with 2 folioles or pinnules springing from a single petiolule, and each distinctly stipitate, and often with two branched midribs from base, largely articulated as in barren frond, each pinnule bearing 20–30 (and upwards) small crowded marginal spike-like clusters at tips of veinlets, subglobular, oblong and turbinate, each cluster or spikelet containing 4–8 sori; involucres glabrous, tips obtuse; capsules smooth, shining, striate; spores white, glabrous. Colour of pinnules rich dark-brown above, glaucescent below; of involucres, orange with large black spots.
Hab. Same general locality as the preceding two ferns; 1843–44: W. C.
Obs. This plant has given me some trouble, from its somewhat resembling the well-known New Zealand species, L. articulatum, A. Richard. Fortunately, however, I possess
Richard's folio copperplate engraving with dissections of that species, and, on a close and prolonged examination and comparison, I find the differential characters to be both clear and constant: I have given them in my rather long description. I also possess good drawings with dissections of several other species, as LL. flexuosum, dichotomum, javanicum, scandens, volubile, and reticulatum, all differing.
The history (so to speak) of these three ferns is somewhat peculiar, and therefore may be briefly narrated.
In my preparing a paper recently for our society, “On the Tin-mines and Mining of Cornwall” (England), I recollected that I possessed a collection of minerals—tin and copper, lead and iron ores—that I had received from Home in the early days (somewhere in the thirties), but I did not know in which of my old unopened cases to find them. On opening one at a guess, I found it was not the one that I wanted, but it contained a heterogenous lot of all sorts—“odds and ends,” pamphlets, letters, small boxes, and Maori curios, and several specimens of dried plants still in very good condition, although they were certainly more than fifty years old, the box having been packed by me in 1844, on leaving the Bay of Islands for Hawke's Bay, and not since opened. Among those specimens were these three ferns (with several others—known ones), and a few Phænogams. I have endeavoured to recollect the exact localities where I had met with them, but in vain. Yet, while such is obscure, from some other specimens put up with them, as Adiantum œthiopicum, and Grammitis leptophylla (G. novœ-zealandiœ, Col.), both in great plenty, whose special habitat I well remember—between Auckland and the head of Manukau Harbour—and also from specimens of Alseuosmia banksii and Pennantia corymbosa (all then rare with me at the north), I know that these three ferns here described must have been also found in that country or district named—and probably near the end of my long journey overland from Hawke's Bay to the Bay of Islands in the years 1843–44. Moreover, on my arrival there in February, being beyond my fixed time, and having very much of other and far different matters to attend to, those specimens were put aside and forgotten.
Further, I cannot but believe that specimens of these three ferns must have been again met with during the last fifty years by the many fern-collectors and amateurs in that now well-known district, and, if so, probably placed under other and allied species—as Trichomanes under T. elongatum; Cheilanthes under C. tenuifolia, or Nothochlœna distans; and Lygodium under L. articulatum—as there is a kind of family resemblance between them at first sight and without close
examination which might suffice to class them as varieties of those well-known and allied species.
In fine (and as it is very likely I may never again have the opportunity of describing any more of our New Zealand ferns), I would venture to repeat what I wrote last year respecting the proper study of ferns, believing such to be absolutely necessary in arriving at a just conclusion concerning them: “I have long been of opinion that greater scrutiny should be given by pteridologists (not mere amateurs, fern-growers, and collectors) to the scales of ferns—their form, consistency, venation, colour, and structure. Nature is ever great, true, and constant in what men term small things.” (Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xxvi., p. 400.) In so saying I merely re-echo the opinions and words of two of our most eminent British pteridologists—Sir W. J. Hooker, formerly the director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, and Mr. John Smith, for forty years his able and intelligent curator of ferns there, and also author of several useful works on ferns. And with these words of Sir William Hooker's (used in describing one of our New Zealand ferns—then, as Polypodium attenuatum, but now, and correctly, as P. cunninghamii) I close my paper: “The nature of the venation is of the highest importance in the study of the ferns—sometimes for discriminating species, and not unfrequently for distinguishing genera” (“Icones Plantarum,” tab. cdix.).