Gleichenia microphylla


Gleichenia: After the German naturalist and plant physiologist Wilhelm Friedrich (Baron) von Gleichen (1717-1783)
microphylla: small leaf

Common Name(s)

carrier tangle fern, parasol 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


Gleichenia microphylla R. Br.



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



Gleichenia circinnata var. microphylla (R.Br.) Maiden et Betche; Gleichenia microphylla var. semi-vestita (Labill.) Alderw.; Gleicheniastrum microphyllum var. semi-vestitum (Labill.) Nakai; Gleicheniastrum semi-vestitum (Labill.) C.Presl; Mertensia microphylla (R.Br.) Kaulf.; Gleichenia circinnata var. semi-vestita (Labill.) T.Moore; Calymella semi-vestita (Labill.) Ching; Gleichenia semi-vestita Labill.; Gleicheniastrum microphyllum (R.Br.) C.Presl; Calymella microphylla (R.Br.) C.Presl


Indigenous. New Zealand: North, South, Stewart Island (from North Cape south but often absent from the eastern side of the two main islands and more common north of Kawhia and Mahia Peninsula). Also Australia, Indonesia and south-east Asia.


Coastal to lowland, on improverished soils, clay pans, serpentinite scree, ferricrete. Also in eutrophic to mesotrophic swamps, and in coastal cliff seepages, as well as on thermally heated ground where it sometimes forms an important ground cover in open scrubland.


Rhizome 1.5-3.5 mm diameter, clothed at first with appressed dark blackish brown lanceolate scales with stiff erect cilia. Frond of 1-3 tiers of branches 0.09-2.00 m long; lower tiers often branching. Stipe 0.1-0.55 m long, widelty scattered along rhizome, bearing scattered dark brown lanceolate scales with whitish woolly-lanate cilia, soon glabrescent, smooth; rachis bearing red-brown to dark blackish brown stellate hairs and lanceolate ciliate scales, sometimes glabrescent. Pinnules glabrous; ultimate segments 1.0-2.5 mm long, 1-2 mm wide, oblong to triangular, obtuse or acute, flat, although sometimes recurved when dry; undersurface green, paler than upper surface (very rarely glaucescent). Sori of 2-4 bright yellow sporangia. Description adpated from Chinnock & Bell (1998) and Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth (2000).

Similar Taxa

Distinguished from both Gleichenia alpina and G. dicarpa by the usually triangular, flat (never pouched) ultimate pinnule segments, and bright yellow sporangia comprised of sori in 2-4 pairs (never strictly 2 pairs). Gleichenia microphylla is also the more common species in coastal and lowland situations in the northern part of New Zealand. Differs from Gleichenia inclusisora (which also lacks pouched pinnule segments) by the sori which are never embedded in the frond under surfaces.



Flower Colours

No Flowers



Propagation Technique

Fickle. Probably best left alone. Transplants have sometimes been successfully grown in shaded conditions with plants planted in an acid, poorly drained soil. But results vary and plants tend to resent any root disturbance


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 40

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 15 March 2011. Description adapted from Chinnock & Bell (1998) and Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth (2000).

References and further reading

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

Chinnock, R.J.; Bell, G.H. 1998: Gleicheniaceae. Flora of Australia 48: 148-162.

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 11: 285-309

This page last updated on 28 Sep 2014