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Pyrrosia eleagnifolia (Bory) Hovenkamp 1986 Leiden Bot. Ser. 9: 1-310(Polypodiaceae)

Leather-Leaf Fern, Ngarara-Wehi


Pyrrosia serpens sensu Allan 1861

Derivation: Pyrrosia = flame coloured (a reference to the colour of the lamina scales in some species); eleagnifolia = with leaves like an olive

The New Zealand Flora is not a good source for up-to-date information on ferns. An enormous amount of revision has taken place since it was published. P. serpens is now understood to refer to a species found only in the Pacific Islands.

Sori appear only on mature fronds, i.e., the long ones. There are also juvenile (rounded - see picture) and intermediate fronds.

Brownsey and Smith-Dodsworth characterise this species as a very tough and adaptable fern that can survive the driest conditions, which makes it's appearance among the Woodhill pine trees more understandable.

28 December 2006, Woodhill Forest, Rimmers Rd, Helensville

28 December 2006, Woodhill Forest, Rimmers Rd, Helensville

Underside of frond showing sori

Andrew Crowe in his book Lifesize Guide to New Zealand Ferns suggests we examine the back of the leaves to see the dense mat of tiny hairs formed into star-like shapes. His book is also a wonderful pointer to the tiny caterpillars and moths which live in and around our ferns.

I am still curious, nevertheless, as to how one one pine tree among thousands of bare trunks, becomes a host to this fern.

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