Asplenium lepidotum


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.
lepidotum: From the Latin 'lepidotus' meaning covered with small scales


Asplenium lepidotum Perrie et Brownsey



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class



None - first described in 2016


Endemic. New Zealand: - North-West Nelson to north Westland


A species of basicolous rocks, bluffs and outcrops (especially limestone). Very occasionally epiphytic in the vicinity of rock outcrops and cliffs faces bearing this species. Asplenium lepidotum has been collected from sea level to about 1000 m above sea sea level.


Terrestrial (usually growing on rocks) fern. Rhizomes stout, erect, rarely short-creeping, bearing scales. Rhizome scales ovate or narrowly ovate, 10–30 mm long, 2–5 mm wide, dark brown. Fronds 120–1100 mm long. Stipes 43–600 mm long, green or brown, densely to sparsely covered throughout in narrowly ovate or ovate scales with acute or acuminate or filiform apices. Rachises often green on both surfaces but occasionally at least partially brown (especially below), grooved, scaly; scales narrowly ovate, 100–470 microns wide at their mid-length, with acute or very short filiform apices. Fronds pinnate, narrowly ovate or ovate, narrowed to a long terminal segment that is usually undivided but rarely lobed proximally, 65–650 mm long, 22–260 mm wide, green on both surfaces, sometimes darker and glossy on upper surface, herbaceous, bearing abundant narrowly ovate or subulate scales with long filiform apices on adaxial surface (at least of young fronds) and on abaxial surface, lacking hairs. Primary pinnae in 0–16 pairs below the apical segment, usually not overlapping, often narrowly lanceolate but occasionally narrowly elliptic or narrowly ovate or rarely ovate, the longest at or below the middle, 26–205 mm long, 9–39 mm wide; pinna apices often acute, occasionally acuminate, or rarely obtuse, margins prominently to weakly serrate, bases stalked and often cuneate or occasionally acute or obtuse. Sori away from margins; indusia 5–20 mm long, usually straight, rarely curved; free margins of indusia entire.

Similar Taxa

Asplenium lepidotum is distinguished from A. oblongifolium (with which it grows) and A. obtusatum by the abundant presence of scales on the upper surface of the pinnae. This is best seen in emerging and young fronds. These scales not only readily distinguish A. lepidotum from A. oblongifolium and A. obtusatum but also A. decurrens and A. scleroprium (species with which it has not yet be found growing), and some plants of A. lyallii. However, these diagnostic scales can be lost on mature fronds. In addition to the abundance of scales on adaxial surfaces of the pinnae. Asplenium oblongifolium can also be distinguished from A. lepidotum by having broader scales on the rachises. In addition to the abundance of scales on upper surfaces of the pinnae, A. lepidotum and A. obtusatum are ecologically separated, with A. obtusatum restricted to the coast and A. lepidotum extending far inland. Current evidence suggests that A. lepidotum rarely, if ever, occurs in open coastal habitats. Asplenium lepidotum can closely resemble pinnate plants of A.lyallii (especially small ones) with abundant scales on the adaxial surface of their pinnae. In these situations both species can usually be separated by the less divided terminal pinna of A. lepidotum.

Propagation Technique

Unknown. Probably similar to Asplenium oblongifolium and A. obtusatum.


Perrie & Brownsey (2016) assessed the status of Asplenium lepidotum using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (Townsend et al. 2008). Their recommendation of 'At Risk / Naturally Uncommon' qualified 'DP' [Data Poor], 'RR' (Range Restricted] has yet to be ratified by the appropriate threat listing panel but as an interim assessment is followed here.

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Fact Sheet Citation

Please cite as:  de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of Access): Asplenium lepidotum Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.aspx?ID=7718 (Date website was queried)


Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (3 March 2017). Description based on Perrie & Brownsey (2016).

References and further reading

Perrie, L.R.; Brownsey, P.J. 2016: Asplenium lepidotum, a new fern species from New Zealand allied to Asplenium oblongifolium and Asplenium obtusatum. New Zealand Journal of Botany 54: 377-391.

Townsend, A.J.; de Lange, P.J.; Norton, D.A.; Molloy, J.; Miskelly, C.; Duffy, C. 2008: The New Zealand Threat Classification System manual. Wellington, Department of Conservation.  

This page last updated on 2 Mar 2017