Hypolepis tenuifolia sensu Hook.f.; Polypodium amplum Colenso; Cheilanthes ambigua A.Rich.; Hypolepis petrieana Carse; Hypolepis punctata sensu Dobbie
Vascular – Native
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.
2n = 208
Current conservation status
The threat classification status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2017 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS) – more information about this can be found on the NZTCS website This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2012 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: By Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, John W. Barkla, Shannel P. Courtney, Paul D. Champion, Leon R. Perrie, Sarah M. Beadel, Kerry A. Ford, Ilse Breitwieser, Ines Schönberger, Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls, Peter B. Heenan and Kate Ladley. Please note, threat classifications are often suggested by authors when publications fall between NZTCS assessment periods – a suggested threat classification status has not been assessed by the NZTCS panel.
2017 | Not Threatened
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Endemic. New Zealand: Three Kings, North, South, Stewart and Chatham Islands.
Coastal to montane. A ‘weedy’ species of disturbed sites in open forest, forest clearings, 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’.
Wetland plant indicator status rating
Information derived from the revised national wetland plant list prepared to assist councils in delineating and monitoring wetlands (Clarkson et al., 2021 Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research Contract Report LC3975 for Hawke’s Bay Regional Council). The national plant list categorises plants by the extent to which they are found in wetlands and not ‘drylands’. The indicator status ratings are OBL (obligate wetland), FACW (facultative wetland), FAC (facultative), FACU (facultative upland), and UPL (obligate upland).
UPL: Obligate Upland
Rarely is a hydrophyte, almost always in uplands (non-wetlands).
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
Not Applicable - Spore Producing
Minute spores are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).
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.
hypolepis: From the greek hypo (under) and lepis (scale), referring to the position of the sori on the ferns
ambigua: From the Latin ambiguus ‘ambiguous, uncertain’
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.
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
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Hypolepis ambigua Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/hypolepis-ambigua/ (Date website was queried)