Asplenium flabellifolium


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.
flabellifolium: Fan-shaped foliage; from the Latin flabellum and folium

Common Name(s)

butterfly fern, walking fern, necklace 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


Asplenium flabellifolium Cav.



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



Chamaefilix flabellifolium (Cav.) Farw.; Asplenium flabellifolium var. ramosum Colenso


Indigenous. New Zealand: North and South mostly easterly from the Bay of Islands. Also present in Australia


Coastal to subalpine. Usually in dry rocky ground, on lava and scoria fields, in grassy areas, within scrub, or along river banks in moderately open alluvial forest. Never found in deep shade or dense forest.


Rhizome short, erect, bearing dark brown subulate scales with long filiform apices up to 6 × 5 mm. Stipes 1-10 cm long, green or yellow-green, slender, lacking scales. Laminae linear, 70-250 × 10-25 mm, light green, flaccid and often prostrate, pinnate. Raches green, weak, lacking scales, frequently extending beyond the uppermost pinnae and rooting at their apices. Pinnae 8-25 pairs, gradually decreasing in size from base to apex, fan shaped, crenate-dentate, cuneate at base, lowest 5-15 × 5-20 mm. Sori radiating along veins, up to 6 mm long.

Similar Taxa

Recognised by the distinctive lax green or yellow-green fronds which root at the apices, are < 30 mm wide and usually have > 8 pairs of fan-shaped pinnae; and by the stipe and rachis which lack scales.


Not applicable - spore producing

Flower Colours

No Flowers


Not applicable - spore producing

Propagation Technique

Easily grown. An excellent pot and hanging basket fern. Can be slow establish. Prefers semi-shade, and should be planted in a fertile, free draining soil, or among rocks.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 277-280

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Occasionally sold by plant and specialist native plant nurseries.


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 4 Dec 2014