Asplenium richardii


Asplenium: From the Greek a- 'without' and splene 'spleen', a northern hemisphere species, the black spleenwort (Asplenium adiantum-nigrum), was once believed to be a cure for diseases of the spleen.
richardii: Named after Achille Richard (1794-1852) - a French botanist who described several New Zealand plant species

Common Name(s)

Richards spleenwort

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


Asplenium richardii (Hook.f) 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



Asplenium adiantoides var. richardii Hook.f. in Hook.; Asplenium raoulii var. richardii (Hook.f.) Mett.


Endemic. New Zealand: North (Mt Honokawa, Mt Ruapehu, and parts of the Kaimanawa Range), and South Islands (mainly east of the Main Divide)


Montane to alpine. On basalt, limestone, schist and greywacke rock outcrops, cliff faces (where usually in crevices), amongst boulders, and on stream banks particularly under beech (Nothofagus) forest.


Rhizome short, stout, erect, bearing dark brown subulate scales up to 20 × 2 mm. Stipes 50-150 mm long, brown on underside, green above, densely covered in subulate scales with filiform apices. Laminae ovate to narrowly ovate, 100-250 × 40-120 mm, dark green, relatively thin, normally tripinnate. Raches green, very scaly, slightly grooved. Pinnae 10-15 crowded and overlapping pairs, ovate to narrowly ovate, sub-acute, stalked, 20-80 × 10-40 mm. Secondary pinnae stalked, ovate, 10-20 × 10-15 mm, again pinnate or pinnatifid. Ultimate segments linear, acute or sub-acute, up to 8 mm long. Pinnae and pinnules not flattened in one plane but spreading in three dimensions. Sori 2-4 mm long, submarginal.

Similar Taxa

Most likely to be confused with A. hookerianum Colenso from which it differs by the usually much larger size and stouter stipe; by the linear ultimate segments which are mostly < 1 mm wide; and by the pinnae and pinnules which are crowded and overlapping. Asplenium richardii is scarce and exclusively alpine in the North Island, and more common in the higher altitudinal part of the drier, eastern South Island than A. hookerianum.


Not applicable - spore producing

Flower Colours

No Flowers


Not applicable - spore producing

Propagation Technique

Easily grown, and an excellent pot plant. However, rather slow growing, and as with all asplenia prone to infestations of scale and mealy bugs.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 288

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

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

Where To Buy

Not Commercially Available


Description from Brownsey (1977).

References and further reading

 Brownsey, P.J. 1977: A taxonomic revision of the New Zealand species of Asplenium. New Zealand Journal of Botany 15: 39-86.

This page last updated on 10 May 2014