Austroblechnum penna-marina


penna-marina: sea-pen; from the Latin penna and marinus, like the polyp 'sea-pen'

Common Name(s)

little hard fern, alpine hard 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


Austroblechnum penna-marina (Poir.) Gasper et V.A.O.Dittrich



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



Struthiopteris distans (Colenso) Ching; Lomaria pumila Raoul; Spicanta pumila (Raoul) Kuntze; Stegania alpina R.Br.; Lomaria distans Colenso; Lomaria linearis Colenso; Lomaria parvifolia Colenso; Blechnum hillii C.Chr.; Blechnum parvifolium (Colenso) C.Chr.; Lomaria alpina (R.Br.) Spreng.; Blechnum alpinum (R.Br.) Mett.; Blechnum penna-marina subsp. alpina (R.Br.) T.C.Chambers et P.A.Farrant


Indigenous. New Zealand: North, South, Stewart, Chatham, Antipodes, Auckland, Campebll Islands. Also Macaquarie Island, Australia, South America and several other circum-Antarctic islands.


Coastal to alpine (mostly montane to alpine in the northern part of range, and scarce north of the Bay of Plenty and the Waikato) in open forest, subalpine scrub, grassland, alpine herbfield, turf (including coastal turf) and in moss field on the shaded sites of rock outcrops.


Rhizome creeping. Fronds dimorphic, 40–120 × 6–12 mm. Stipe 15–200 mm long, dark red-brown at base, usually becoming stramineous towards lamina; scales somewhat bullate, linear to ovate, entire, red-brown. Lamina lanceolate, pinnate, with 4-34 pairs of pinnae; rachis and costae stramineous; scales mainly on lower surface, small, sparse, acuminate, entire, brown to red-brown; sterile pinnae oblong-obtuse or somewhat triangular, 3.5–8.0 × 2.0–4.2 mm, adnate with broad bases, contiguous; margins entire; basal pinnae shorter, rounder; fertile pinnae linear and somewhat falcate, 3.6–6.8 × 1.0–2.5 mm.

Similar Taxa

None. Easily recognised by the small size, narrow sterile fronds; erect, narrow fertile fronds, and extensively creeping, turf-forming habit.



Flower Colours

No Flowers



Propagation Technique

Easily grown from spores and by the dviison of established plants. Does well in shade or the open but prefers a damp soil. An excellent ground cover fern.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 66

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family



Perrie et al. (2014) advocated for a broadened circumscription of Blechnaceae whereby a number of genera traditionally recognized as distinct from Blechnum were merged within it. However, this view has not met with universal acceptance (see de Gasper et al. 2016) and does not seem to be followed worldwide (PPG 2016). From a New Zealand perspective the decision to merge Doodia in Blechnum, and rejection of Diploblechnum has not been universally accepted either e.g., Wilcox & Warden (2017), and as such it is considered appropriate to follow world opinion and accept the taxonomy of de Gasper et al. (2016) and recommendations of the PPG (2016). See also the comments by Pyner (2017).

There appears to be no valid combination for Blechnum penna-marina subsp. alpina (R.Br.) T.C.Chambers et P.A.Farrant in Austroblechnum.


Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (19 September 2012). Description adapted from Chambers & Farrant (1998)

References and further reading

Chambers, T.C.; Farrant, P.A. 1998: Blechnaceae. Flora of Australia 48: 359-384. ABRS/CSIRO Australia, Victoria

Gasper, A.L.; de Oliveira Dittrich, V.A.; Smith A.R.; Salino, A. 2016:  A classification for Blechnaceae (Polypodiales: Polypodiopsida): New genera, resurrected names, and combinations. Phytotaxa 275: 191–227.

Perrie, L.R.; Wilson, R.K.; Shepherd, L.D.; Ohlsen, D.J.; Batty, E.L.; Brownsey, P.J.; Bayly, M.J. 2014: Molecular phylogenetics and generic taxonomy of Blechnaceae ferns. Taxon 63(4): 745-758.

PPG 1: The Pteridophyte Phylogeny Group 2016: A community-derived classification for extant lycophytes and ferns. Journal of Systematics and Evolution 54: 563-603.

Pyner, T. 2017: A new classification of Blechnum. British Pteridological Society. https://ebps.org.uk/new-classification-blechnum/

Wilcox, M.; Warden, J. 2017: Botany of Hillsborough coast bush reserves, Manukau Harbour, Auckland. Auckland Botanical Society Journal 72: 32-46.

This page last updated on 5 Sep 2017