Asplenium subglandulosum


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)

blanket fern

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 - SO, Sp
2009 - SO


Asplenium subglandulosum (Hook. et Grev.) Salvo, Prada



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



Gymnogramma alpina Potts; Gymnogramma rutaefolia (R.Br.) Desv.; Gymnogramma pozoi var. rutaefolia (R.Br.) Hook. et Baker; Ceterach rutaefolium (R.Br.) Mett.; Grammitis rutaefolia R.Br., Asplenium subglandulosum (Hook. et Grev.) Salvo, Prada et Diaz subsp. subglandulosum; Pleurosorus rutifolius (R.Br.) Fée


Indigenous. North and South Islands. In the North known from inland Hawkes Bay (an old record), the north-west Ruahine Ranges, near Cape Palliser, and possibly also Cape Te Rawhiti. In the South Island more widespread in the east from Marlborough south to Otago. Present in Australia.


Coastal to subalpine (1 - 1400 m.a.s.l.), saxicolous, usually on dry, exposed and sunny rock faces or crevices and joints with little (if any) associated vascular plant cover.


Reddish-green to red-brown hairy fern of dry or exposed rock crevices. Rhizomes short, erect, ascending, covered in scales. Stipes and rachises pale chesnut-brown to dark red-brown at base, green above, copiously invested in pale brown to red-brown 0.1-2 mm long, non-glandular hairs. Stipe 5-70 x 0.5 mm diameter. Frond lamina 1-2-pinnate, narrowly elliptic, 15-150 x 6-45 mm, dark brownish-green to brown-green, densely covered in pale brown non-glandular hairs. Primary pinnae in 3-11 pairs, flabellate, ovate or bluntly and broadly ovate; bases oblique to unequally cuneate, shortly stalked; margins dentate or more or less entire; apices obtuse or more or less rounded; longest pinnae near middle of frond, these 3-23 x 3-22 mm, divided into secondary pinnae; these up to 10 x 9 mm. Sori 5 mm or less long.

Similar Taxa

This species could not be confused with any other New Zealand fern. Its preference for exposed, dry rock faces and crevices, usually devoid of other vascular plants, the small tufted habit, and the almost velvety textured, brownish-green, 1-2-pinnate fronds copiously covered in reddish to red-brown non-glandular hairs are key characters enabling its immediate recognition in the field and herbarium.


Not applicable - spore producing

Flower Colours

No Flowers


Not applicable - spore producing

Propagation Technique

Difficult - should not be removed from the wild


A genuinely uncommon, naturally sparse fern. Although widespread it is easily overlooked and it is possible that some populations have been eliminated by quarrying. Because it is unusual it is rather vulnerable to overcollection by botanists, a factor which has threatened some populations in the recent past. It is quite likely that some populations are threatened by the spread of introduced weeds into its preferred cliff habitats. Nevertheless it would seem that these threats have had little impact on the species overall distribution. Populations of this species should be carefully monitored to determine their long-term stability.

Chromosome No.

2n = 144

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available.


Fact Sheet Prepared for NZPCN by: P.J. de Lange (17 April 2011). Description adapted from Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth.

References and further reading

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

This page last updated on 16 May 2016