NZ has approx. 200 species of ferns. From small 20mm filmy ferns to 10m high tree ferns. Ferns require lots of water so are typically found in moist forested areas. The leaves of ferns are called Fronds. Young fronds are coiled tightly into a spiral. The Maori call this “Koru”. The Koru is a popular motif in many NZ designs. Ferns have different growth forms from tufted, creeping, climbing, perching and tree ferns.
Creek Fern / Blechnum fluviatile
Maori name Kiwikiwi, also known as Star Fern. Growing in a ground hugging rosette, starfish shape. The dark brown fertile fronds stand up from the centre. With long and narrow fronds (50cm) and many short rounded leaflets. Likes to grow in damp shady areas. So is easily found on side of creek beds and side of water tables (Ditch on side of track) The creek fern is said to help with toothaches.
Crown Fern / Blechnum discolor
Maori name Kiokio. Endemic to NZ. Has bright green, upright fronds up to 1m long which form a crown shape. The fertile fronds start emerging from the centre of the plants in spring. The fronds start off as a light green colour with a slight orange tinge to the tips and then turn to a dark brown as the spores ripen.
Drooping Spleenwort / Asplenium flaccidum
Maori name Makawe. Also known as Hanging spleenwort or weeping spleenwort. This is an epiphytic fern usually found growing from tree trunks and rocks. It’s dull green hanging fronds reach up to 1m long.
Hounds Tongue Fern / Microsorum pustulatum
Maori name Kowaowao, also known as Kangaroo fern. Has a thick stem with bright green leathery fronds. Veins spread across the fronds. Usually found growing on side of track. Also being epiphytic can be seen growing on trees. The young plants are light green and edible. The older plants are not edible.
Prickly Shield Fern / Polystichum vestitum
Maori name Puniu. Endemic to NZ. A hardy medium sized ground fern. Its long dark green fronds are almost prickly to touch and can reach up to 1.5m in length. Stalks are thick and very densely covered in large, dark scales. Has been used in cooking to flavour stews. This is the fern most commonly seen along the track in large numbers.
Scrambling Clubmoss / Lycopodium volubile
Maori name Waewaekoukou. Seen along the side of track. Has a creeping habit and can climb up vegetation. The stems are thin and wiry.