southern comb fern
Schizaea australis Gaudich., Schizaea fistulosa var. australis (Gaudich.) Hook. f.
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 = 188
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
Indigenous. New Zealand: North, South, Stewart, Chatham, Auckland and Campbell Islands. From Te Moehau south but scarce north of the Volcanic Plateau. In the South Island primarily found west of the main divide. Uncommon on the Chatham Islands. Also South American and Falkland Islands.
In peat bogs, pakihi, fell field, cushion bogs and in poorly drained tussock grassland or in marginal turf communities fringing lakes, tarns and ephemeral pools in forested and open areas.
Wetland plant indicator status rating
Commonly occurs as either a hydrophyte or non-hydrophyte (non-wetlands).
Tufted terrestrial fern. Rhizomes short-creeping, slender, hairy. Frond glabrous, reed-like, undivided, green or pale brown. Stipe 20-150 mm long, 0.25-0.5 mm diameter, erect, wiry, smooth. Laminae at stipe apices, pinnate, 4-15 mm long, pinnae fertile in 4-8 pairs, 1-4 mm long, infolded. Sporangia in one row either side of midrib.
Allied to Microschizaea fistulosa from which it differs by its usually smaller size (stipe 20-150 mm cf. 100-500 mm long in M. fistulosa), smaller fertile laminae (4-15 mm cf. 7-30 mm in M. fistulosa), slightly smaller pinnae (1-4 mm cf. 1-5 mm long in M. fistulosa), ecological preference for montane and subantarctic habitats, and perhaps most convincingly by its different chromosome number (2n = 188 cf. 2n= 388, 540 in M. fistulosa). The distinctiveness of Microschizaea australis from M. fistulosa was confirmed by Ke et al. (2022).
Difficult - should not be removed from the wild
Where To Buy
Not commercially available
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.
Ke, B-F.; Wang, G-J.; Labiak, P.H.; Rouhan, G.; on behalf of the GoFlag Consortium; Chen, C-W.; Shepherd, L.D.; Ohlsen, D.J.; Renner, M.A.M.; Karol, K.G.; Li, F-W.; Kuo, L-Y. 2022: Systematics and Plastome Evolution in Schizaeaceae. Frontiers in Plant Science 3: 885501. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2022.885501
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Microschizaea australis Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/microschizaea-australis/ (Date website was queried)