Asplenium cimmeriorum


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.

Common Name(s)

cave spleenwort

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon

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 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Sparse


2012 - RR, Sp


Asplenium cimmeriorum Brownsey et de Lange



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





New Zealand endemic. In the North Island known only from the cave entrances and limestone areas in the Waitomo area. The species is more common in the western South Island, where it has been recorded from Karamea south to Punakaiki.


Primarily confined to heavily shaded, calcareous rocks in high rainfall areas, especially cave entrances and archways. Often found underneath other ferns such as Blechnum chambersii Tindale.


Shortly-creeping, rhizomatous fern. Rhizomes up to 60 mm long, densely invested in blackish-brown scales, up to 10 x 4 mm. Stipes 25-130 mm long; stipes and rachises green, straw-coloured or blue-green, covered in subulate scales up to 25 x 1 mm. Laminae narrowly triangular or narrowly ovate, sometimes triangular or ovate, 2-3-pinnate, 35-220 x 15-70 mm, thin, dark green or blue-green, bearing scattered scales. Primary pinnae in 4-14(-17) pairs, 10-40 x 5-17 mm. Secondary pinnae linear or elliptic, the lower ones divided. Sori 1.5-3 mm long, extending along the ultimate segments, 1.5-3 mm long, margins of indusia entire.

Similar Taxa

It can be distinguished from Asplenium bulbiferum by its smaller size, shortly creeping rhizomes, narrowly triangular fronds and lack of bulbils. From A. gracillimum it differs by its small size, and shortly creeping rhizomes.


Not applicable - spore producing

Flower Colours

No Flowers


Not applicable - spore producing

Propagation Technique

Difficult. Can be grown from spores which taken anywhere from 16 -26 months to produce sporophytes. Rather slow growing. Does best in a pot in semi-shade. It is very prone to scale and mealy bug attack.


Probably more common than was believed when it was formally described in 1997. However it does seem to have a naturally sporadic distribution, particularly in the North Island, where forested, undisturbed entrances to caves are less common.

Chromosome No.

2n = 288

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Taxonomic Notes

North and South Island populations based on analysis of chloroplast sequences appear to have independent hybrid origins. Further research is needed to determine whether taxonomic distinction can be made

Fact Sheet Citation

Please cite as:  de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of Access): Asplenium cimmeriorum Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.aspx?ID=222 (Date website was queried)


Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 28 October 2005. Description adapted from Brownsey & de Lange (1997).

References and further reading

Brownsey, P. J.; de Lange, P. J. 1997: Asplenium cimmeriorum, a new fern species from New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 35(3): 283-292


This page last updated on 2 Mar 2017