Subordinate Taxa
Scientific Name:
Arthropteris J.Sm. ex Hook.f., Bot. Antarct. Voy. II (Fl. Nov.-Zel.) Part II, 43, t. 82 (1854)
From the Greek arthro (jointed) and pteris (a fern), a reference to the nature of the fronds, which are jointed at their base.

Climbing or terrestrial ferns. Rhizomes long-creeping, scaly, bearing short phyllopodia. Rhizome scales peltate, ovate. Fronds monomorphic, articulated to the phyllopodia. Stipes bearing scales and multiseptate hairs. Laminae 1-pinnate to 1-pinnate-pinnatifid, herbaceous to coriaceous, scaly and hairy. Pinnae articulated to rachis, entire or lobed, often auricled on acroscopic side. Veins free or rarely anastomosing, ending in hydathodes inside the lamina margin. Sori round, superficial, near the margin; paraphyses present. Indusia absent (NZ) or reniform (not NZ). Spores monolete; perispores with irregular wing-like folds.


Arthropteris is a clearly defined genus. However the delimitation of several species within the genus remains unresolved, with conflicting interpretations of the A. palisotii complex provided in Flora treatments for Malesia and Australia (Holttum 1964; Bell 1998), and for which genetic analysis has found no clear answer (Liu et al. 2013).

The family relationships of Arthropteris have been contentious. In New Zealand, the genus was previously included within the Davalliaceae by Allan (1961) and Brownsey et al. (1985), and in the Oleandraceae by Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth (2000). Following Zhang et al. (2016) it is included here with Tectariaceae, but there have been suggestions that it warrants a family of its own (Liu et al. 2013).


In New Zealand, Arthropteris can be recognised by its long-creeping and climbing rhizomes, pinnate fronds that are articulated to phyllopodia on the rhizome, pinnae that are shallowly lobed, auricled on the acroscopic side and articulated to the rachis, and round exindusiate sori situated just inside the margin. The spores have irregular wing-like folds (Large & Braggins 1991).


A genus of 10–20 species centred on the Old World tropics but extending to temperate regions in New Zealand, southern China and as far east as the Juan Fernández Islands (Liu et al. 2013): six species in Africa (Roux 2009), six in Malesia (Holttum 1964), one in China (Xing et al. 2013), four in Australia (Bell 1998), and about five in the Pacific (Nakamura 2008). One non-endemic species in New Zealand.

Indigenous (Non-endemic)
Number of species in New Zealand within Arthropteris J.Sm. ex Hook.f.
Indigenous (Non-endemic)1

The base chromosome number in Arthropteris is x = 41 or 42 (Tindale & Roy 2002).

Bell, G.H. 1998: Davalliaceae. In: Flora of Australia. Vol. 48. 434–450.
Brownsey, P.J.; Given, D.R.; Lovis, J.D. 1985: A revised classification of New Zealand pteridophytes with a synonymic checklist of species. New Zealand Journal of Botany 23(3): 431–489.
Brownsey, P.J.; Perrie, L.R. 2018: Tectariaceae. In: Breitwieser, I.; Wilton, A.D. (ed.) Flora of New Zealand — Ferns and Lycophytes. Fascicle 20. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln.
Brownsey, P.J.; Smith-Dodsworth, J.C. 2000: New Zealand ferns and allied plants. Edition 2. David Bateman, Auckland.
Holttum, R.E. 1964: The genus Arthropteris J.Sm. in Malesia. Blumea 14: 225–226.
Hooker, J.D. 1854–1855: The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage of H.M. Discovery Ships Erebus and Terror, in the years 1839–1843, under the command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross. II. Flora Novae-Zelandiae. Part II. Flowerless plants. Lovell Reeve, London.
Kramer, K.U.; Green, P.S. 1990: Pteridophytes and gymnosperms. Kubitzki, K. (ed.) The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants. Vol. 1. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
Large, M.F.; Braggins, J.E. 1991: Spore atlas of New Zealand ferns and fern allies. SIR Publishing, Wellington.
Liu, H.-M.; Jiang, R.-H.; Guo, J.; Hovenkamp, P.H.; Perrie, L.R.; Shepherd, L.D.; Hennequin, S.; Schneider, H. 2013: Towards a phylogenetic classification of the climbing ferns genus Arthropteris. Taxon 62: 688–700.
Nakamura, M. (ed.) 2008: Illustrated flora of ferns and fern allies of South Pacific Islands. National Museum of Nature and Science Book Series No. 8. Tokai University Press, Tokyo.
Roux, J.P. 2009: Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands. Strelitzia 23: 1–296.
Smith, A.R.; Pryer, K.M.; Schuettpelz, E.; Korall, P.; Schneider, H.; Wolf, P.G. 2006: A classification for extant ferns. Taxon 55(3): 705–731.
Tindale, M.D.; Roy, S.K. 2002: A cytotaxonomic survey of the Pteridophyta of Australia. Australian Systematic Botany 15: 839–937.
Xing, F.; Yan, Y.; Dong, S.; Wang, F.; Christenhusz, M.J.M.; Hovenkamp, P.H. 2013: Tectariaceae. In: Zhengyi, W.; Raven, P.H.; Deyuan, H. (ed.) Flora of China. Lycopodiaceae through Polypodiaceae. Vol. 2–3. Science Press, Beijing.
Zhang, L.; Schuettpelz, E.; Rothfels, C.J.; Zhou, X.-M.; Gao, X.-F.; Zhang, L.-B. 2016: Circumscription and phylogeny of the fern family Tectariaceae based on plastid and nuclear markers, with the description of two new genera: Draconopteris and Malaifilix (Tectariaceae). Taxon 65: 723–738.