King fern, Para, Tawhiti para, Horseshoe fern
Marattia salicina J.E. Sm.; Marattia fraxinea Smith, Marattia fraxinea sensu J.B.Armstr.
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 = 78
Current conservation status
The conservation 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). 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.
2012 | At Risk – Declining | Qualifiers: SO
Previous conservation statuses
2009 | At Risk – Declining | Qualifiers: SO
2004 | Serious Decline
Indigenous to New Zealand and the South Pacific (possibly elsewhere). In New Zealand it is found throughout the north-western half of the North Island from inland Wanganui northwards. The Waikato is probably its stronghold where it is known from many remnants and forested areas in the west.
Favouring lowland, karst habitats (cave entrances and tomo shafts) and dark stream sides, often amongst supplejack (Ripogonum scandens) and parataniwha (Elatostema rugosum).
A large, robust fern with fronds to 5 m tall arising from a stout, starchy base that was a traditional food for the Maori. The cane-like leaf stalks are green, 1–3 m long, and have a large basal, ear-like lobe that protects the uncoiling frond. The dark glossy green (or yellow-green in stressed sites) fronds are up to 4 m long by 2 m wide. The frond pinnules are entire, oblong, strap-like, and taper towards the tip. Midribs of the primary pinnae are swollen at the junction with the main stem. The spores are arranged in distinctive boat-shaped sori. The juvenile fronds are less robust, wilting easily on exposure to sunlight, with the strap-like pinnules often lobed or serrated. An unusual form with crested tips to the adult pinnules is sometimes found in the wild around the Kawhia area.
Specimens of suitable age may produce sporangia at any time.
Difficult. Can be grown from spores but very slow.
Feral and domestic stock, wild pig and goat browse are serious threats throughout its range. Indeed large specimens are only found where there has been intensive animal control, in inaccessible cave and tomo entrances or in steep-walled limestone gorges. Aside from animals the most serious threat to this species comes from plant collectors who have been responsible for the recent loss of several large, reasonably accessible populations near Kawhia.
ptisana: From the Latin ptisana ‘barley grains’, in reference to the fused sporangia of the fern have the appearance of pearl barley
Where To Buy
Periodically offered by most commercial garden centres. Plants are held by several specialist native plant nurseries.
Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 August 2003.
References and further reading
Murdock, A.G. 2008: A taxonomic revision of the eusporangiate fern family Marattiaceae, with description of the new genus Ptisana. Taxon 57(3): 737-755
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Ptisana salicina Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/ptisana-salicina/ (Date website was queried)