Leptopteris superba


Leptopteris: thin fern; from the Greek leptos and pteris
superba: Superb

Common Name(s)

Heruheru, Crape fern, Prince of Wales feathers

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


Leptopteris superba (Colenso) C. Presl



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



Todea superba Colenso; Osmunda superba (Colenso) J.B.Armstr.


Endemic. New Zealand: North, South and Stewart Islands from Waipoua Forest south but scarce north of Auckland.


Widespread in dense forest though it is mainly found in montane forest in the northern part of its range. it is especially luxuriant in areas of high rainfall reaching its greatest densities on the West Coast of the South Island


Trunks up to 1 m tall. Stipes 15-80 mm long, pale brown, woolly hairy, with ear-like lobes at base. Frond delicate, membranous, translucent, laminae elliptic, tapering equally to base and apex, 3-pinnate, 0.25-0.1m long, 80-250 mm wide, dark emerald green, woolly hairy, veins free. Primary pinnae in 35-60 pairs, crowded, basal ones 5-10 mm long, ultimate segments linear, sticking up at 90 degrees to plane of frond. Sporangia scattered on underside of pinnae (not in discrete sori), though tending to be more abundant toward frond centre. Description modified from Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth 2000.

Similar Taxa

Leptopteris hymenophylloides differs by its longer stipe, triangular frond, longer and broader pinnae, and by its ultimate lamina segments flattened in one plane. Where both species meet they commonly hybridise.



Flower Colours

No Flowers



Propagation Technique

Rather difficult. Best results are obtained where specimens are planted in a shaded, cool, humid site in deep humus enriched soil. Plants must never be allowed to dry out. By and large this species is only suitable for specialist cultivation and it is probably best to admire it in the wild rather than to try and grow it.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 44

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Minute spores are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).


Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 10 March 2011. Description modified from Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth 2000.

References and further reading

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

Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309

This page last updated on 5 Jun 2015