Asplenium polyodon


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.

Common Name(s)

sickle 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 polyodon G.Forst.



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 falcatum Lam.; Asplenium adiantoides var. polyodon (G.Forst.) C.Chr.; Asplenium falcatum var. caudatum sensu Allan; Tarachia falcata (Lam.) C.Presl; Tarachia polyodon (G.Forst.) C.Presl; Trichomanes adiantoides L.; Asplenium forsterianum Colenso; Tarachia adiantoides (L.) Nakai ex Tuyama; Asplenium adiantoides (L.) C.Chr.; Asplenium caudatum sensu Hook.f.; Asplenium falcatum sensu A.Rich.


Indigenous. New Zealand: Kermadec, Three Kings, North, South, Stewart and Chatham Islands. Also Madagascar, Indo-Malaysian, Australia, and the Pacific Islands. In the South Island mainly western, in the east found as far south as Bull Creek on the coast south of Dunedin


Coastal to montane. In scrub and dense forest, often as an epiphyte but also on rock outcrops, fallen logs and on the ground.


Rhizome stout, short creeping, densely covered in red-brown, narrowly triangular scales up to 10 × l mm. Stipes 100-300 mm long, dark brown, stiff, densely covered in scales similar to but smaller than those of the rhizome. Laminae lanceolate, 250-500 (or more) × 100-200 mm, dark green and glossy above, paler and dull below, frequently pendulous, pinnate. Raches dark chocolate brown, very scaly. Pinnae 25 (or more) pairs, narrowly angular-ovate to ovate, sometimes with a large rounded basal acroscopic lobe, acuminate, doubly serrate, 50-100 × 10-20 mm, scaly and with prominent veins on underside. Sori often slightly curved away from the midrib, up to 2 mm long.

Similar Taxa

Recognised by the simply pinnate frond which are > 30 mm wide; by the dark chocolate brown rachis; and by the pinnae irregularly and doubly serrate


Not applicable - spore producing

Flower Colours

No Flowers


Not applicable - spore producing

Propagation Technique

Rather slow growing but a very attractive species which is excellent in a pot, on a shaded rock wall, or planted in a free draining, moist, fertile soil under tall trees.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 144

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

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




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.

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 4 Dec 2014