forked comb fern
Acrostichum bifida (Willd.) Poir
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 = 154
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: SO
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Indigenous. New Zealand: North Island (Te Paki to Lake Taupo and East Cape, Wellington), South Island (North-West Nelson to Westport). Also Australia and New Caledonia.
Coastal to montane - mostly in open clay pans and shrubland (especially gumland scrub). Often in drought prone habitats. However, on occasion Schizaea bifida has also been collected from restiad peat bogs. It is also locally common in geothermal areas where it grows amongst moss and in open shrubland.
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).
Commonly occurs as either a hydrophyte or non-hydrophyte (non-wetlands).
Rhizomatous, tufted fern. Rhizome short-creeping, densely clothed with glossy pale to dark brown hairs. Fronds clustered, erect, 70-550 mm long, 0.6-1.2 mm wide, subterete, furrowed on 1 side or flattened, smooth to scabrid, undivided or dichtomously divided 1 or more times, pubescent at first, becoming smooth or scabrid; sterile fronds shorter and more divided than sporogenous ones or, more rarely, absent; sporogenous heads ovate-triangular to obliquely oblong, 5-30 mm long, 2-4x longer than broad, broadest near the base, tapering distally, often recurved; segments 5-12 mm long, smooth to scabrid; margins with long, brown hairs. Sporangia mixed with pale brown hairs. Description from Chinnock (1998)
Undivided forms of Schizaea bifida are distinguished from Microschizaea fistulosa (with which it often grows) by the sporogenous heads which are glabrous, and which are shorter and broader, with the lower most pair of segments the longest. Divided forms of Schizaea bifida are easily distinguished from S. dichotoma by the sterile and fertile frond segments not arranged in a fan-shape.
Difficult - should not be removed from the wild
Where To Buy
Not commercially available
Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 14 March 2011.
References and further reading
Chinnock, R.J. 1998: Schizaeaceae. Flora of Australia 48: 177-187.
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Schizaea bifida Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/schizaea-bifida/ (Date website was queried)