Tmesipteris elongata


Tmesipteris: From the Greek tmesis (cutting) and pteris (fern), alluding to the forked appendages on fertile fronds
elongata: Elongated

Common Name(s)

Fork fern

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Tmesipteris elongata P.A. Dang.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class



Tmesipteris forsteri sensu A.Cunn. nom. inv., Tmesipteris elongata P.A. Dang. subsp. elongata, Tmesipteris elongata subsp. robusta Chinnock, Tmesipteris lanceolata M. Sykes, Tmesipteris tannensis var. elongata (P.A.Dang.) Domin, Tmesipteris tugana H.N.Barber


Indigenous. New Zealand: North, South, Stewart and Chatham Islands (most common in the North Island). Also Australia


Coastal to montane (but more common in lowland areas). Mostly epiphytic on a range of tree ferns (especially Dicksonia), trees and also emerging from the base of tank lilies (Astelia and Collospermum spp.). Less commonly found growing on cliff faces, amongst crackes and crevices in boulders and rock falls, or amongst mosses on the ground.


Rhizome: brittle, dichotomously branched, 0.8-3.5 mm diameter, densely clad in dark brown rhizoids 1.0-1.5 mm long. Aerial Shoot: developing over one or many years and terminating in a small appendage 0.1-0.5× the size of the largest leaves or in small forms with predominantly distichously arranged leaves terminating in an appendage similar to the largest leaves developed; simple or dichotomously branched 1-2(-3) or more times, pendulous, 80-1180 mm long, ± quadrangular in cross-section; leaves spirally or distichously arranged, sporophylls spirally arranged. Leaves: l-5 per 10 mm of stem, sub-coriaceous, flexible, almost isobilateral with stomata distributed over one or both surfaces, surfaces dull mid-green; oblong, lanceolate, falcate to aristate, variable on the same plant; 10-42 mm long, (excluding mucro), 3-9 mm broad; mucro blunt 1-2 mm long. Sporophylls: developed in regular or irregular zones or throughout most of the length except in the lowermost part, occasionally scattered amongst the leaves; slightly shorter than the leaves, 3-5 per 10 mm of shoot. Synangium: 2-6 mm long, 1.0-2.5 mm high at point of attachment, greenish yellow to light brown at maturity, testiculate; lobes ± equal, ends obtuse; lying along the sporophyll axis; immature synangia when dried reflex at the ends and then ± lunate; deciduous at maturity. Spores: pale yellow, often released in a mass.

Similar Taxa

Tmesipteris elongata is easily recognised by the testiculate rather than biconic sporangia (synangia) which have rounded ends and by the long, tapering, lanceolate, falcate or oblong leaves without emarginate apices (cf. Tmesipteris horomaka (see Fact Sheet)). Tmesipteris elongata subsp. robusta described by Chinnock (1975) is usually now regarded as an extreme form of T. elongata.



Flower Colours

No Flowers



Propagation Technique

Difficult - should be removed from the wild


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 208

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available


Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (21 April 2011). Description adapted from Chinnock (1975).

References and further reading

Chinnock, R.J. 1975: The New Zealand species of Tmesipteris (Psilotaceae). New Zealand Journal of Botany 13: 743-768

This page last updated on 19 Jan 2014