Cheilanthes distans


Cheilanthes: From the Greek kheilos 'lip' and anthos 'flower', referring to the indusium
distans: distant (widely spaced female flowers

Common Name(s)

woolly cloak fern, woolly rock 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


Cheilanthes distans (R.Br.) Mett.



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



Notholaena distans R.Br.


Indigenous. Kermadec Islands: Macauley Island. New Zealand: Three Kings, North and South Islands. Also Australia and New Caledonia (mainly easterly from Te Paki south to Banks Peninsula).


Coastal to montane in dry, rocky habitats with only sparse or no vegetation cover. Often found growing with Asplenium flabellifolium, Cheilanthes sieberi subsp. sieberi and Pellaea calidirupium. More common in the drier eastern parts of the country.


Rupestral (rarely terrestrial) fern. Fronds up to 350 × 30 mm; stipe red-brown or dark brown, with moderately dense to dense covering of brown scales and some hairs' rachis densely covered in scales. Lamina linear, 2-pinnate or 2-pinnatifid at base and for most of length; large pinnae triangular-ovate; pinnules oblong- elliptic; margins entire or lobed; adaxially sparsely to moderately densely covered with slender, white hairs and occasional caducous scales, very rarely glabrous; abaxially sparsely to densely covered in scales and sparse white hairs. Spores spherical. granulose and ridged, with echinate ornamentation, 43-79 microns diameter, 16 per sporangium.

Similar Taxa

Distinguished from Cheilanthes sieberi subsp. sieberi with which it often grows by the the stipes, rachises and primary pinnae being copiously covered in scales and hairs rather than glabrous (or nearly so).


N.A. - spore producing

Flower Colours

No Flowers


N.A. - spore producing

Propagation Technique

Easily grown in a dry sunny site. An excellent pot plant. In ideal conditions it soon self establishes.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 116

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

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



Fact Sheet Prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (Updated 3 May 2011). Adapted from Chambers & Farrant (1998)

References and further reading

Chambers, T.C.; Farrant, P.A. 1998: Cheilanthes. Flora of Australia 48: 271-286.

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 11: 285-309

This page last updated on 14 Aug 2014