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Volume 56, 1926
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Botanical Notes, including Descriptions of New Species.

[Read before the Auckland Institute, 25th November, 1924; received by Editor, 28th November, 1924, issued separately, 6th March, 1926.]



During recent years many alterations have been made by European pteridologists in the classification and nomenclature of ferns. As far as New Zealand genera are concerned, various species of Aspidium and one Nephrodium are now classed under Polystichum, the remainder of the Nephrodia. and one Polypodium being known as Dryopteris. Polypodium tenellum is now Arthropteris tenella; Davallia novae-zealandiae is Leptolepia; Asplenium umbrosum is restored to its place as Athyrium; A. japomcum is Diplazium japonicum; Lomaria is Blechnum; and so on.

For some time I have been in correspondence with Dr. Carl Christensen, of Copenhagen, who is the European authority on ferns, and from his notes much of the following information is compiled. Quotations from his notes are followed by his initials (C. C.).

1. Dryopteris punctata C. Chr.

Syn. Polypodium punctatum Thunb (Manual, 1008); P. punctatum var. rugulosum (Thomson).

“It is a true Hypolepis, not at all a Dryopteris as listed in my Index, where I followed Engler and Prantl. In the Supplement to the Index it is

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placed under Hypolepis. The typical Hypolepis punctata is very different from your plant, which is Polypodium rugosulum Labill. (not rugulosum, as commonly spelled). I call attention to the fact that the genus Hypolepis totally lacks true scales'—i.e., flattened trichomes; the vesti-ture is always formed by hairs—i.e., trichomes formed by one cell or a single row of cells. By this character Hypolepis may always certainly be known from Dryopteris.”(C. C.)

2. Dryopteris parasitica (of New Zealand authors).

Syn. Nephrodium molle (Manual, 1006).

“The specimen sent [gathered at Kaitaia, North Auckland] resembles closely a common form widely spread in tropical countries. It is, however, scarcely typical parasitica (L.), and should probably be named D. dentata (Forsk.) C. Chr. The typical parasitica of Linnaeus is Chinese and, inter alia, characterized by the frond not being narrowed downward.” (C. C.)

3. Diplazium japonicum Bedd.

Syn. Asplenium japonicum Thunb.

“The form from Kaitaia corresponds closely with the original description and figure of D. congruum Brack, and I do not hesitate to refer it to that species, but I am rather in doubt how it may be distinguished from D. japonicum without having access to a large number of specimens from central Polynesia. I should prefer to name your form provisionally D. japonicum, suggesting that it is presumably that form described as D. congruum Brack.” (C. C.)

There is another form occurring in the far north with longer pinnules which are more or less deeply toothed, and a form gathered at Te Whaiti, between Rotorua and Hawke's Bay, is still more deeply lobed. These Te Whaiti plants were gathered by Dr. Petrie and Mr. H. B. Matthews. A plant which they brought to Mr. H. B. Dobbie has developed pinnules more deeply lobed and a more open character. It appears to me to correspond very closely to the description of the late T. Kirk's Asplenium umbrosum var. tenuifolium. Dr. Christensen has not yet seen this form, but I hope to forward specimens to him shortly.

4. Asplenium lamprophyllum sp. nov.

Rhizoma breviter repens 7–10 mm. longum, vel densum, pallide viride, squamis paucis fugitivis. Stipes 15–20 cm. longus, teres, alte canaliculatus a parte superiore, a parte postica atro-purpureus. Frondes 10–55 cm. longae, 10–15 cm. latae, oblongo-lanceolatae, pallide virides, subacuminatae, supra lucentes, erectae, submembranaceae, bipinnatae; rhachides teretes, a parte superiore canaliculatae. Pinnae numerosae, 5.15 cm. longae, 2.5–5 mm. latae, lanceolatae a parte inferiore pinnatae, ¾ pinnatifidae; rhachis secundaria late alata. Pinnulae 15–30 mm. longae, late cuneatae, alte lobatae, lobis oblongis obtusis. Sori obliqui angusti 3–9 mm. longi, costis propinqui, raro prope margines.

A beautiful light-green brightly-shining fern, often growing in close masses 3–10 ft. in diameter. Rhizome shortly creeping, 7–10 mm. long, or stout and compact, pale green with a few scattered dark linear-lanceolate scales. Stipes 15–20 cm. long, terete, deeply grooved in front, usually

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purplish-black and scaly at the back, green in front. Fronds 10–55 cm. long, oblong-lanceolate, slightly acuminate. light green, brightly shining on upper surface, erect, submembranous, bipinnate; rhachis terete, grooved in front, with a few deciduous scales. Pinnae numerous, ascending below, horizontal above, 5–15 cm. long, 2.5–5 cm. wide, lanceolate, sub-acuminate or acuminate, partly pinnate at base, the greater part pinnatifid: secondary rhachis broadly winged, with a few dark scales. Pinnules 15–30 mm. long, broadly cuneate, deeply lobed, lobes oblong, obtuse. Sori oblique, narrow, 3–9 mm. long, close to the midrib, seldom near the margin.

Habitat.—North Island: Maungataratara, Whangaroa County; Aponga, Maungatapere, Whangarei County; Great Barrier Island; vicinity of Auckland City; Mauku, Papakura (H. B. Dobbie!) Franklin County; Te Aroha, Piako County.

This fern has for many years been accepted as “a form of Asplenium bulbiferum.” Not being satisfied with this determination, I submitted specimens to Dr. Christensen, who remarks: “This is a very interesting fern, and it is a wonder that till now it has escaped the attention of pteridologists, for it certainly is not A. bulbiferum but a species of Asplenium, as far as I can see, undescribed. A close comparison of the specimens with several dried and living specimens of A. bulbiferum (in our Botanical Garden) show that scarcely one character is common to them. I conclude, then, that it is an undescribed species. If you agree in this I think you will describe and name it.”

Asplenium lamprophyllum usually occurs on or among rocks in shady woods; occasionally it is found on the lower parts of the trunks of trees, and sometimes on clay banks. Especially fine specimens are to be seen in the small woods among the lava blocks at Mount Wellington, near Auckland I have not yet seen specimens from farther south than Te Aroha, but probably it will be noted in other districts.

5. Blechnum capense (of New Zealand authors).

Syn. Lomaria capensis (Manual, 980); L. procera (Thomson's Ferns, 67).

“The three varieties received are certainly very interesting. A close study in the field is very necessary before finally deciding that these forms really belong to a single species. Is your fern really conspecific with Blechnum capense, a South African fern ? B. capense is said to be distributed over the whole Tropical and the South Temperate Zone, but I have little doubt that a comparative study based upon rich material will affirm my idea that several distinct species of more definite geographical range can be distinguished. This being the case, your fern should probably be named B. procerum (Forst.).” (C. C.)

6. Hypolepis.

“The three forms sent as Hypolepis tenuifolia, H. Petrieana, and Dryopteris punctata C. Chr. are as under:—


H. tenuifolia Bernh.


H. punctata (Thunb.) Mett. Syn. H. Petrieana Carse.


H. rugosula (Labill.) J. Smith. Syn. Dryopteris punctata (see No. 1 of this paper).

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“H. punctata differs from the other two in its pale, almost glabrous stipes and rhachises. Hooker and Baker united H. punctata and H. rugosula under Polypodium, hence comes this confusion.” (C. C.)

Owing to this confusion, no New Zealand student of ferns appears to have been aware that H. punctata was indigenous. It was classed as “merely a form of H. tenuifolia.” I was not satisfied with this view, so that when Dr. Petrie drew my attention more closely to this fern I did not hesitate to describe it as a new species (Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. 50, p. 64, 1918).

“H. rugosula is distinguished from H. punctata by its red rhachises and its viscosity.” (C. C.)

Of H. tenuifolia there are at least two quite distinct forms, which may eventually have to be separated. One is a tall robust plant with a rhizome and stipe 10 mm. or more in diameter. The other is much smaller.

7. Polypodium dictyopteris Metten.

“Rhizome small, short, knot-like … emitting woolly rootlets, some of which creep and produce new tufts of fronds.” (Manual, 81).

On lava rocks on the Auckland Isthmus the juvenile form of this fern produces a creeping rhizome 3–15 in. long, with tufts of fronds, or single fronds at intervals. As a rule by the time the plant attains maturity the long rhizome has disappeared, leaving the tufts or single fronds as separate plants.

Mr. J. W. Brame, of Aucklamd, who has devoted many years to the study of New Zealand ferns referring to this fern, writes,—

“Our last outing resulted in my obtaining a suite of specimens better than any I have before seen. Among them I have noted as follows:—

“(1.) Roots branching and producing single fronds or tufts of fronds at nodes of both main roots and branches of same; these all juvenile. Roots upwards of 12 in. long.

“(2.) Two or more tufts of fronds connected by a root; these both adult and juvenile.

“(3.) Adult or mature fronds, well spored, from 2 ½ in. to 14 in. long, and some of them 1 in. wide when fresh.

“(4.) In some instances fronds, instead of being ‘tufted at top of rhizome,’ seem to be produced in series, with short intervals between, along the rhizome, as in some of the dwarfed forms of P. australe.”

8. Gleichenia.

“I call attention to my Index Fil. Supp. [113], where I, after examination of type specimen of G. circinata Sw. (Herb. Stockholm), have changed the names thus, and, no doubt, correctly:—

“1.G. circinata Sw. (1806), not authors. Syn. G. dicarpa R. Br. (1810).

“2. G. microphylla R. Br. (1810). Syn.G. circinata of authors.

“Your series should thus be named—

“1. G. circinata with its var. hecistophylla.

“2. G. microphylla (G. circinata of yours).

“May G. alpina be maintained as a distinct species ?” (C. C,)

Much confusion has been caused through the mixing-up of these two species, and many writers in New Zealand appear to infer that there are

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great difficulties in distinguishing them. After a considerable amount of study in the field I find that they have very distinct characters which will enable the student to tell the one from the other almost at a glance.

The following are some of the main differential characters:—

[The section below cannot be correctly rendered as it contains complex formatting. See the image of the page for a more accurate rendering.]

G. circinata (syn. G. dicarpa). G. microphylla (syn. G. circinata).
Scales and hairs Reddish-brown, often very dense Dark reddish-brown, less dense
Colour Pale green, upper surface dull, usually very glaucous below Dark green, upper surface polished, pale-yellowish below, less often glaucous.
Shape Suborbicular. apex truncate or rounded, pouched Triangular on a broad base, inner margin curved, giving apex an outward direction, apex subacute.
Sporangia 1—2, rarely 3, dull yellowish-white 1—4, rarely 5, bright shining yellow.

Environment does undoubtedly affect the outward appearance of these two species, as suggested by Dr. Cockayne in Some Noteworthy New Zealand Ferns, p. 55. In the shade the pouch-like segments of G. circinata (formerly known to us as G. dicarpa) are almost flat, the scales and woolly hairs much less developed. But the shape remains. In circinata the segments are invariably suborbicular, in microphylla triangular with the inner side curved outwards; the sori of the former always show same with 2 sporangia of a dull yellowish-white, the latter almost invariably some with 4 sporangia of a bright-yellow hue.

The majority of writers on New Zealand ferns appear to infer that the type form of G. circinata Sw. (= G. dicarpa of authors) does not occur in the Dominion. This I have long held to be a mistake. When I sent specimens of what I took to be the type form and variety hecistophylla to Dr. Christensen he had no hesitation in recognizing the one as the type, the other as the variety. I sent specimens to the Sydney Botanic Gardens. Mr. E. Cheel, to whom they were submitted, writes: “The specimen of G. circinata marked ‘Type?’ seems to me to closely approach our Port Jackson plants of G. dicarpa R. Br., and may not be specifically different from that species, but the specimen labelled ‘G. circinata var. hecistophylla (A. Cunn.)’ seems to me a well-marked form.”

A specimen received from Sydney labelled “G. dicarpa” can readily be matched in this country, so that I think we may take it that G. circinata (G. dicarpa of authors) is here represented by the type plant and its two varieties.

G. circinata var. hecistophylla differs from the type in being smaller and more densely woolly. This seems to me to be the result of environment, as the variety is found in cold, sour land, exposed to sun and wind. The form known as var. alpina seems to pass by gradual steps from var hecistophylla, some of the subalpine forms of which it is almost impossiblc to distinguish from alpina.


9. Lepyrodia Traversii F. v. Muell.

The habitat of this very local plant is given in the Manual as “Swamps between Hamilton and Ohaupo, middle Waikato district. Chatham Islands: Abundant in peaty swamps.”

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Since this was written the plant was discovered on a peat bog near Kaitaia, in the far north of Auckland.

Recently I found it occurring very plentifully in peat bogs at Tauhei, in the Morrinsville district, about twenty miles east from the Ohaupo Swamp. Here it was very much larger than I had seen it elsewhere. The Manual gives it “2–5 ft. high.” The Tauhei plants, growing among tall Leptospermum scrub, are 4–10 ft. high, the stems being thick in proportion.

Lepyrodia will probably be extinct before very long. The Kaitaia Swamp has been drained and the plant is no longer seen. I understand that drainage and fires have destroyed the Ohaupo plants, and doubtless the same fate will shortly overtake those at Tauhei. It is more than probable that other colonies of Lepyrodia may exist among the thousands of acres of still undrained swamp in the middle Waikato area. The distribution of this plant at stations so widely separated as the Chathams, the middle Waikato area, and Kaitaia is noteworthy.

10. Pittosporum umbellatum Banks and Sol.

In woods near Whangaroa Harbour the leaves of juvenile plants are deeply ternately lobed, passing gradually on the upper part of the branch to the ordinary elliptic-oblong or lanceolate-oblong form. I have not noticed this heterophyllous form elsewhere.

In the same woods I found two mature trees, in fruit, on which the majority of the leaves are rather narrower than usual and are deeply lobed ol bluntly toothed.

11. Pittosporum pimeleoides R. Cunn.

In Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. 53, p. 365, 1921, is an article on P. cornifolium A. Cunn. by D. Petrie, in which it is shown that that plant is in all probability unisexual, that the male flowers are produced in 6–8-flowered umbels, and that the female flowers are solitary or rarely in pairs.

In studying P. pimeleoides I find that the same thing occurs. The male flowers are produced in terminal umbels of 4–8 flowers, each flower on a long slender pedicel. The female flowers are solitary or in pairs on much shorter pedicels. It is to be noted that binate female flowers and capsules are much more common in this species than in P. cornifolium.

12. Pseudopanax Lessonii C. Koch.

In the Manual this species appears under the heading “Leaves of young plants not markedly different from those of old ones.”

Some years ago the late Mr. Cheeseman told me he suspected there was a form of this plant (or possibly a distinct species) in which the juvenile leaves differ materially from the mature ones. Since then I have kept a lookout, and here give the result of my observations.

In the juvenile plants of what I take to be typical P. Lessonii, as described in the Manual, the leaflets hardly differ in shape from those of mature plants. In my specimens, from shrubs 2–5 ft. high, the leaflets are 2–4 in long, rather more deeply toothed.

The other form is very-different. In the mature state the leaves are usually 5-foliolate, leaflets oblong-lanceolate, linear-lanceolate, to linear-oblong, 3–6 in. long, more coriaceous than in the type form.

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The juvenile form of this plant is often difficult to distinguish from the trifoliolate form of P. crassifolium, though, as a rule, the leaflets are less rigid.

The plants from which these specimens were obtained are 1–6 ft. in height, none showing signs of having flowered at any time. I have divided them into two sets—(a) those having 3–5 or 5–7 leaflets, and (b) those having 1–3 leaflets.

(a.) Shrubs 4–6 ft. high. Leaflets 3–5, 5, or 5–7, broadly or narrowly linear, 4–10 in. long, ¼–1 in. wide, distantly, bluntly toothed, an incurved hook at the end of each tooth.

(b.) Shrubs 1–4 ft. high (possibly merely younger states of above). Leaflets 1–3, narrow linear, 3–10 in. long, ¼–1 in. wide, toothed as in (a).

So far I have seen two only of this form in flower. My specimens were gathered in various places between the North Cape Peninsula and Coromandel Peninsula.

Mixed with these is a juvenile form which the late Mr. Cheeseman suggested to Mr. John Bishop, of Titirangi, might perhaps prove to be the Chatham Island P. macrocarpa.

13. Dracophyllum Matthewsii sp. nov.

Frutex D. latifolio A. Cunn. affinis, sed in partibus omnibus minor. Truncus ± 4.5 m. altus. Rami graciles non verticillate. Folia 10–30 cm. longa, 12–25 mm. lata. Panicula 10–28 cm. longa, semper pendula. Flores quam in D. latifolio minores et minus densi, rubro-purpurei vel nigropurpurei. Capsula 2 mm. in diam. Floret tempore verno.

A shrub or small tree allied to D. latifolium A. Cunn., but smaller. The branches are not whorled as in that species, and are much more slender. At the extremities, where the leaves occur, they are only ⅛–¼ in. in diameter. Leaves 4–12 in. long, ½–1 in. wide at broadest part, tapering to an acute point. Panicles 4–12 in. long, always drooping. Rhachis and branches yellowish-green in colour, as also sepals. Petals purplish-red or almost black; anthers white tinged with pink.

D. latifolium A. Cunn. var. Matthewsii Carse, Trans. N.Z. Inst. vol. 43, p. 238, 1911.

Hab. North Island: Dry ridges in forests from Mongonui County to Great Barrier Island and Waitakerei Ranges. September-October.

This plant bears a general resemblance to D. latifolium, but the smaller size in all its parts, the pendulous panicle, the difference in colour of its flowers, and the differing flowering-period (September instead of January) distinguish it clearly from that species.

In the preparation of this paper I am greatly indebted, for specimens, information, and assistance, to Dr. Carl Christensen, of Copenhagen; Dr. Petrie, of Auckland; Mr. E. Cheel, of Sydney; and to Messrs. H. B. Matthews, H. B. Dobbie, J. W. Brame, and J. Bishop; to all of whom I gladly tender my thanks for their valuable assistance.

Literature consulted.

Brown, R. Prodromus.

Cheeseman, T. F. Manual of the New Zealand Flora. Wellington, 1906.

Illustrations of the New Zealand Flora. 2 v. Wellington, 1914.

Cockayne, L. Some Noteworthy Ferns.

Dobbie, H. B. New Zealand Ferns. Auckland, 1921.

Petrle, D. Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. 53, p. 365, 1921.

Thomson, G. M. The Ferns and Fern Allies of New Zealand. Melbourne, 1882.