Asplenium trichomanes subsp. quadrivalens


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.
trichomanes: From the ancient Greek name used by Theophrastus and Dioscorides, for a type of fern; refers to the slender hair projecting from each spore case

Common Name(s)


Current Conservation Status

2012 - Threatened - Nationally Critical

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 - Data Deficient
2004 - Data Deficient


2012 - RR, SO, Sp
2009 - SO


Asplenium trichomanes subsp. quadrivalens Meyer



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





Indigenous. In New Zealand known only from a few collections from the eastern Hawkes Bay where it was recently discovered (2008) at a few sites. It is also in Australia, Europe and probably elsewhere.


Unclear. Apparently lowland and at one site (Tangoio) it was collected from limestone outcrops. Other than that we know very little about it. It is suspected that a few collections probably came from gardens, and their status as representing truly wild populations is suspect.


Plants tetraploid. Rhizome stout, erect, bearing dark brown subulate scales up to 5 mm long. Stipes 10-100 mm long, dark brown, shining, stiff, lacking scales except at the very base. Laminae linear, 50-300 mm long, dark green, sub-coriaceous, pinnate. Raches dark brown, shining, stiff, lacking scales. Pinnae sub-sessile, 15-25 (or more) pairs, oblong to more or less orbicular, crenate-serrate to more or less entire, 2-10 x 1-5 mm. Sori up to 3 mm long. Spores 34-39 microns long.

Similar Taxa

Easily recognised by the stiff and erect, simply pinnate fronds which are < 30 mm wide; bearing > 8 pairs pinnae; and by the brown stipe and rachis which is completely without scales. Two cryptic subspecies exist, one is hexaploid (2n = 216) and so has larger spores and is further distinguished by having larger darker scales while subsp. quadrivalens is tetraploid (2n = 144), so has smaller spores. It has finer, smaller, lighter scales.


Not applicable - spore producing

Flower Colours

No Flowers


Not applicable - spore producing

Propagation Technique

Difficult - should not be removed from the wild


Unknown. This subspecies has only been collected a few times in New Zealand and recent attempts to rediscover it at these locations have so far been unsuccessful

Chromosome No.

2n = 144

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available

Notes on taxonomy

The other widespread plant referred to A. trichomanes is a hexaploid which appears to be endemic to New Zealand (it maybe in Australia). This cytorace may yet be described as a new subspecies or even subspecies as part of a European based revision of the A. trichomanes complex (L. Perrie pers. comm.). Until that time we retain the name A. trichomanes for this widespread hexaploid fern.


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 14 Aug 2014