Zealandia pustulata subsp. pustulata

Common Name(s)

hounds tongue, kowaowao, paraharaha

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


Zealandia pustulata (G.Forst.) Testo et A.R.Field subsp. pustulata



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



Phymatosorus pustulatus (G. Forst.) Large, Braggins et P.S. Green; Phymatosorus diversifolius (Willd.) Pic. Serm.; Microsorum pustulatum (G. Forst.) Copel. subsp. pustulatum


Indigenous. New Zealand: Kermadec Islands (Raoul, Meyers only), Three Kings, North, South, Stewart, Chatham, Auckland and Antipodes Islands. Also Australia. Abundant throughout main islands of New Zealand except for Central Otago.


A common fern of coastal to montane area, growing either on the ground, over rocks or on tree trunks and branches. Although widespread and often found growing admixed with Dendroconche scandens, Zealandia pustulata is more drought tolerant and seems to prefer more open, drier habitats.


Epiphytic or rupestral scrambling or climbing fern. Rhizomes long-creeping, 4-10(-12) mm diameter, fleshy-succulent, yellow-green to golden brown, sometimes glaucescent maturing greyish-brown to grey-black, growing tips densely invested in brown-black appressed ± ovate scales, these entire or minutely toothed hear apex, scales shedding over time as rhizome matures leaving small scars. Fronds joined to rhizomes, very coriaceous; stipes 20-250(-340) mm long, pale brown to almost black, ± pliant when young becoming brittle with age; laminae adaxially glabrous (except for a few scales on midrib and costae), bright glossy green (yellow green in exposed sites), abaxially paler, in outline variable ranging from undivided (especially in young plants) narrowly elliptic, 70-250 × 10-30 mm to mostly pinnate, ovate, 60-450 × 40-300 mm; midrib and veins prominent, main lateral veins mostly prominent, usually with 2 or 3 series of major areoles between costa (midrib in simply fronds); hydathodes present on blind vein endings, visible mainly on upper surface; pinnae in 1-12 pairs, 30-170 × 5-40 mm, bluntly acute, margins smooth, weakly undulose to extremely so, bases adnate. Sori prominent, round (rarely elliptic), sunk into abaxial lamina causing a prominent bulge on the adaxial laminal surface, aligned in one row either side of costa, set back from pinna margins. Spores pale, bearing wart-like protuberances.

Similar Taxa

Easily recognised by the stout, widely creeping, pruinose fleshy rhizomes bearing brown-black appressed scales (and which carry distinctive scars where the appressed brown-black scales have shed), and by the thick, leathery, bright glossy green fronds, broad pinnae with entire often wavy margins, distinctive conspicuously reticulate venation, and deeply impressed sori. The genus Zealandia differs from Dendroconche by the usually pruinose rhizomes and holoepiphtic rather than hemiepiphytic growth habit, absence of laterally inserted climbing roots and sori which are deeply impressed in the lamina (Testo et al. 2019).


Not applicable - spore producing

Flower Colours

No Flowers


Not applicable - spore producing

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from rooted pieces of rhizome. Excellent in a hanging basket, large pot, or trained to grow over rocks, and logs. Zealandia pustulata can be easily established on the branches of suitable trees and can make a fine specimen for the average garden. Once established it rarely requires much attention and has the added bonus of being remarkable drought tolerant, disease and pest free.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 74

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Taxonomic Notes

The treatment of Testo et al. (2019) in which the New Zealand ferns previously treated by New Zealand authors as Microsorum (see Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth 2000) are segregated into two genera, Dendroconche and Zealandia is followed here.

Fact Sheet Citation

Please cite as:  de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of Access): Zealandia pustulata subsp. pustulata Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.aspx?ID=2201 (Date website was queried)


Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (13 January 2012). Description adapted from Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth (2000) and Bostock & Spokes (1998).

References and further reading

Bostock, P.D.; Spokes, T.M. 1998: Polypodiaceae. Pp. 468-495. Flora of Australia 48. Australian Biological Resources Study, CSIRO Canberra

Brownsey, P.J.; Smith-Dodsworth, J.C. 2000: New Zealand Ferns and Allied Plants. Auckland, David Bateman

Testo, W.L.; Field, A.R.; Sessa, E.B.; Sundue, M. 2019: Phylogenetic and morphological analyses support the resurrection of Dendroconche and the recognition of two new genera in Polypodiaceae Subfamily Microsoroideae. Systematic Botany 44(4): 1-16. DOI 10.1600/036364419X15650157948607

This page last updated on 1 Nov 2019