Royal Fern, Hard todea, King fern
Acrostichum barbarum L., Osmunda barbara Thunberg, Todea africana Willd.
Vascular – Native
2n = 44
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.
2018 | Threatened – Nationally Vulnerable
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Threatened – Nationally Endangered | Qualifiers: SO
2009 | Threatened – Nationally Endangered | Qualifiers: SO
2004 | Threatened – Nationally Endangered
Indigenous. In New Zealand confined to the North Island, where it grows on the Poor Knights Islands and locally from Te Paki south to about Dargaville and the Bay of Islands. Common in South Africa and Australia.
Coastal to lowland areas. A species of gumland scrub, coastal shrublands, and streamside margins in open forest, occasionally found on coastal cliffs or on serpentinite. Often found on bare claybanks or fringing sinkholes in gumland scrub.
Extremely, robust, coriaceous ferns producing trunks up to 1 m tall. Stipes smooth, 150–600 mm, yellow brown, with ear–like lobes at base. Fronds persistent, coriaceous, 0.25–0.65 × 1.2–3.5 m, ovate, elliptic to lanceolate, 1-pinnate-pinnatifid to 2-pinnate, glabrous or finely pubescent along veins, glossy, upper surface pale green, yellow-green to golden yellow, undersides similar but paler. Pinnae 20–60 × 4–10 mm, lanceolate, narrowly oblong, to ovate; pinnules broadly attached at base, 15–80 × 4–9 mm, oblong-elliptic, apex acute, margins toothed; sporogenous pinnae occasionally shorter than sterile ones, restricted to lower part of frond, on lower pinnules of primary pinnae, at first in discrete groups, then confluent, green turning reddish brown.
A well marked species quite unlike any other indigenous or cultivated species of fern present in New Zealand. However, there has been some confusion with the introduced royal fern, Osmunda regalis L., perhaps because both species share the same vernacular. Osmunda is an aggressive species, which is readily distinguished from Todea by the deciduous habit, softer pale-green to blue-green fronds, and by the fertile portion of the frond occurring as a distinct branchlet at the apex of the frond.
None (spore producing)
None (spore producing)
Very easily grown in any sunny, frost-free site. Will tolerant quite extreme conditions including very dry and very wet habitats but does best in a sunny, free draining soil.
Threatened by habitat loss through land clearance and competition from weeds such as Hakea spp. and pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana (Schult. et Schult.f. ) Asch. et Graebn.). Some populations have been eliminated by people collecting plants for the horticultural trade. At least one major population, that on Aorangi Island, Poor Knights Island group is threatened by natural succession from open shrubland to coastal forest.
Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 August 2003. Description based on Chinnock (1998) but see also de Lange et al. (2010)
References and further reading
Chinnock, R.J. 1998: Osmundaceae. Pp. 112–115.Flora of Australia 48: Ferns, Gymnosperms and Allied Groups. Melbourne: ABRS/CSIRO Australia.
de Lange, P.J.; Heenan, P.B.; Norton, D.A.; Rolfe, J.R.; Sawyer, J.W.D. 2010: Threatened Plants of New Zealand. Canterbury University Press, Christchurch.
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Todea barbara Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/todea-barbara/ (Date website was queried)