Hypolepis: From the greek hypo (under) and lepis (scale), referring to the position of the sori on the ferns
ambigua: uncertain, doubtful
Hypolepis ambigua (A. Rich.) Brownsey et Chinnock
Vascular - Native
Hypolepis tenuifolia sensu Hook.f.; Polypodium amplum Colenso; Cheilanthes ambigua A.Rich.; Hypolepis petrieana Carse; Hypolepis punctata sensu Dobbie
Endemic. New Zealand: Three Kings, North, South, Stewart and Chatham Islands.
Coastal to montane. A 'weedy' species of disturbed sites in open forest, forest cleanngs, forest margins, in scrub, and in open grassland. It is often a component of brackenfield and as with H. dicksonioides, H. ambigua frequently colonises urban areas, where at times it can become a troublesome 'weed'.
Rhizome long-creeping, 2–4 mm diameter, covered in red-brown hairs up to 2.5 mm long, stipes arising at intervals of 90–200 mm (abundant near growing tip, sparse elsewhere). Stipes 80–600 mm long, 1.5–5 mm diameter, red-brown at very base, pale red-brown or yellow-brown above, covered at base in red-brown hairs, up to 3 mm long, sparse above and paler. Laminae ovate or broadly ovate, 0.2-1.2 × 0.15-1.0 m, bipinnate at apex, tripinnate or quadripinnate below. Rachis red-brown or yellow-brown at base, green at apex, sparsely covered in pale brown hairs like those of stipe. Primary pinnae in 22–30 pairs, opposite or subopposite, the lowest arising at 20–50° to stem upper ones at 70–90°, the longest near the base 150–550 × 85–270 mm; lowest ones 50–240 mm apart, middle ones 15–80 mm apart; upper ones narrowly ovate or ± parallel-sided, lower ones ovate or broadly ovate narrowly winged. Secondary pinnae narrowly ovate or broadly ovate; parallel-sided, broadly winged, 50–160 × 20–53 mm those on the lower pinnae decreasing markedly in length along the pinnae. Tertiary pinnae narrowly ovate or parallel-sided, 10–30 × 5–12 mm. Quaternary pinnae (when present) 2.5–8.0 × 1.5–4.0 mm. Veins reaching margin at tooth apex. Hairs: glistening colourless non-glandular hairs on underside of lamina, costae and midribs, absent from lamina margin; brown-tinged hairs on upper surfaces abundant on midribs; 0.3–1.0 mm long (mostly c.0.5 mm), those on pinna midribs and costae often longer. Sori: one on acroscopic edge of each ultimate segment, originating away from margin; protected at maturity by slightly reflexed pinnules margin which also often bears a few short hairs at this point; hairs also often present in sorus (0.3-0.5 mm long). Spores pale, brown, echinate.
Hypolepis ambigua is most often confused with H. dicksonioides. A much less common species of mostly northern New Zealand and associated offshore islands, as well as the Kermadec Islands. Hypolepis ambiqua is readily distinguished from H. dicksonioides by the young emergent fronds which are not profusely covered in sticky, glandular hairs (indeed the fronds are also devoid of glandular hairs), and by the sorus which is only partially protected (if at all) by a marginal flap (cf. the sorus protected by a prominent marginal flap in H. dicksonioides). However, hybrids are common wherever the ranges of these two species overlap, and these can only be reliably determined by their aborted spores.
Not Applicable - Spore Producing
Main Flower Colour
Not Applicable - Spore Producing
Easily cultivated from fresh spores and by the division of established plants. Hypolepis ambigua is a short-lived, and at times aggressive species such that it is probably not well suited to garden conditions.
2n = 208
Where To Buy
Can be purchased from Oratia Native Plant Nurseries (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Fact Sheet Prepared for NZPCN by: P.J. de Lange (8 November 2012).Description from Brownsey & Chinnock (1984).
References and further reading
Brownsey, P.J.; Chinnock, R.J. 1984: A Taxonomic revision of the New Zealand species of Hypolepis. New Zealand Journal of Botany 22: 43-80.
This page last updated on 8 Nov 2012