gully fern, feather fern, piupiu
Cyclosorus pennigera (G. Forst.) Ching; Thelypteris pennigera (G. Forst.) Allan; Dryopteris pennigera var. hamiltoni (Colenso) Cheeseman; Polypodium pennigerum var. hamiltonii Colenso; Polypodium pennigerum var. giganteum Colenso; Polystichum pennigerum (G.Forst.) Gaudich. in Freyc.; Phegopteris cunninghamii Mett.; Polypodium pennigerum G.Forst.; Polypodium subsimilis Colenso; Goniopteris pennigera (G.Forst.) J.Sm.; Lastrea pennigera (G.Forst.) C.Presl; Nephrodium pennigerum (G.Forst.) C.Presl;Cyclosorus pennigerus (G.Forst.) Ching; Dryopteris pennigera (G.Forst.) C.Chr.; Goniopteris forsteri T.Moore; Aspidium cunninghamii Kunze; Aspidium novae-zeelandiae Ettingsh.; Aspidium pennigerum (G.Forst.) Sw.; Pneumatopteris pennigera (G. Forst.) Holttum
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 = 144
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 | Qualifiers: TO
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Indigenous. New Zealand: Three Kings, North, South, Chatham Islands. Also Australia.
Coastal to montane, usually in dense forest in riparian habitats or in gullies, or on frequently flooded ground. A common fern under willows (Salix spp.). Often found along waterways in urban wasteland, Although usually found in shaded situations Pakau will tolerate considerable exposure provided its roots are in a permanently damp situation.
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).
FACU: Facultative Upland
Occasionally is a hydrophyte but usually occurs in uplands (non-wetlands).
Delicate, terrestrial fern. Rhizome slender, erect, 0.3–1.0 m tall, scaly; scales broad, brown, glabrous. Fronds 0.4–1.2 m long, pale yellow-green to bright green. Stipe 0.15–0.3(–0.45) m long, pale brown or green-brown. Lamina narrowly elliptic to elliptic, to 0.3–1.1(–1.5) m long; pinnae to 36 pairs; basal 4–5 pairs gradually reduced; lowest pinnae 10–30 mm long, 15–30 mm wide; largest pinnae c.100 mm long, 30 mm wide at auriculate base, lobed more than ½-way to costae; lobes oblique, tapering, minutely dentate; costules 5–7 mm apart; veins usually 6 pairs, 1 pair anastomosing, with next acroscopic vein sometimes passing to the sinus membrane. Lamina ± glabrous, aside from pale brown ovate scales on abaxial surface of costae of emergent and young fronds, and sparse brown acicular hairs and colourless capitate hairs on adaxial surface of rachis, costae and margins. Sori inframedial, exindusiate; sporangia without capitate hairs near annulus.
Within the New Zealand Thelypteridaceae Pakau is superficially similar to Christella (with which it sometimes grows). From Christella it is most reliably distinguished by abaxially glabrous fronds (hairy in Christella) and absence of an indusia (present in Christella).
Not Applicable - Spore Producing
Not Applicable - Spore Producing
Easily grown provided it is planted in a permnantly moist soil, in a shaded site, and sheltered from frost.
pakau: Pākau, or pākauroharoha, is derived from the common name for the fern Pakau pennigera (hitherto known as Pneumatopteris pennigera) in Te Reo Māori
Pakau is a monotypic genus erected by Fawcett & Smith (2021) to accommodate Pneumatopteris pennigera. Pakau differs from Pneumatopteris by having exindusiate sori, by the presence of costal scales, and by the absence of rudimentary proximal pinnae.
Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (13 November 2012). Description adapted from Bostock (1998) and Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth (2000).
References and further reading
Bostock, P.D. 1998: Thelypteridaceae. Flora of Australia 48: 327–358.
Brownsey, P.J.; Smith-Dodsworth, J.C. 2000: New Zealand Ferns and Allied Plants. Auckland, David Bateman
Fawcett, S.; Smith, A.R. 2021: A generic classification of the Thelypteridaceae. Sida 59. BRIT Press, Fort Worth Botanic Garden | Botanical Research Institute of Texas, U.S.A.
Ford M. (2020). Pneumatopteris pennigera -a record-breaking gully fern? Trilepidea January 2020.
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Pakau pennigera Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/pakau-pennigera/ (Date website was queried)