Arthropteris tenella


Arthropteris: From the greek arthro (jointed) and pteris (fern)
tenella: delicate

Common Name(s)

Jointed 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


Arthropteris tenella (G. Forst.) Hook. f.



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



Polypodium filipes T.Moore; Polypodium tenellum G.Forst.


Indigenous. New Zealand: Three Kings, North, South and Chatham Islands (Rekohu and Rangiauria). Also Australia, Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. In New Zealand reaching its southern limits on Banks Peninsula and Rangiauria (Pitt Island).


Coastal and lowland forest. Usually found scrambling over rocks and climbing up tree trunks.


Rhizomatous terrestrial and/or epiphytic ferns. Rhizome 1.5-4.0 mm diameter, widely creeping; upper surface densely covered with spreading elongate, red-brown, often marginally toothed scales (these shedding with age). Fronds 120-300 mm long, tapering towards base and partly to apex; uppermost pinna pair and terminal pinna usually enlarged. Stipes 20-120 mm long; abaxial rachis surface bearing scattered scales and sparse to dense short curled hairs; adaxially sparsely invested with scales or not. Pinnae bearing similar hairs abaxially, ± glabrescent, and on proximal portion of adaxial and abaxial midrib (here persistent); base not auriculate; apex usually attenuate but acuminate or rounded in sterile pinnae. Sterile pinnae 5-110 × 10-18 mm; margins entire. Fertile pinnae 18-160 × 5-23 mm; margins entire to crenate (scalloped). Sori round, in one row either side of midrib, set at 2/3 to 3/4 distance from midrib to margin; indusium absent.

Similar Taxa

Easily recognised by the tapering, distinctly stalked pinnae which usually have crenate (scalloped) margins, and by the round sori which lack an indusia. Sometimes, such as when this fern grows on rocks or on the forest floor it may remain sterile, and such plants often have much smaller fronds whose pinnae lack the distinctive crenate margins typical of the fertile fronds of this species.


Not applicable - spore producing

Flower Colours

No Flowers


Not applicable - spore producing

Propagation Technique

Easily grown provided it is planted in a frost-free situation. Prefers partial shade and a free draining soil. This fern does best when it has something to climb up.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = c.84

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Minute spores are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).


Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by: P.J. de Lange (26 February 2012). Description adapted from Bell (1998) and Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth (2000)

References and further reading

Bell, G.H. 1998: Davalliaceae. Pp. 434-450. Flora of Australia 48. Australian Biological Resources Study, CSIRO Canberra

Brownsey, P.J.; Smith-Dodsworth, J.C. 2000: New Zealand Ferns and Allied Plants. Auckland, David Bateman

Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 2009 Vol. 11 No. 4 pp. 285-309

This page last updated on 10 May 2014