Asplenium trichomanes


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 - 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 trichomanes L.



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 melanolepis Colenso; Chamaefilix trichomanes (L.) Farw.; Asplenium trichomanes var. melanolepis (Colenso) C.Chr.;


Indigenous. New Zealand: North and South Islands from near Waro (north of Whangarei) south though often local. Known from a few collections from Australia


Coastal to subalpine. Favouring sparsely vegetated, sunny sites on base-rich rocks such as limestone, basalt, schist or the apatite-rich facies of greywacke rock. In the North Island it is virtually confined to calcareous rock and soil.


Plants hexaploid. 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 ± orbicular, crenate-serrate to ± entire, 2-10 × 1-5 mm. Sori up to 3 mm long. Spores 39-47 microns long. 2n = 216

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 (the entity described in this Fact Sheet) hexaploid (2n = 216) and the other (subsp. quadrivalens Meyer) tetraploid (2n = 144)


Not applicable - spore producing

Flower Colours

No Flowers


Not applicable - spore producing

Propagation Technique

Easily grown in a pot, or in a crevice within a rock wall. Does best on a base-rich substrate such as limestone or basalt (or mortar within a brick wall). Prone to attacks from scale, mealy bugs and aphids.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 216

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not Commercially Available.

Notes on taxonomy

New Zealand plants are hexaploid and are distinct from the type (in Europe) which is diploid. At this stage we refer them to A. trichomanes, though at a later date they may receive a new name at either the rank of species or subspecies.


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