Scientific Name:
Blechnum penna-marina subsp. alpina (R.Br.) T.C.Chambers & P.A.Farrant, Fern Gaz. 15: 96 (1996)
  • Stegania alpina R.Br., Prodr. Fl. Nov. Holland. 152 (1810)
  • Lomaria alpina (R.Br.) Spreng., Syst. Veg., ed. 16, 4, 62 (1827)
  • Blechnum alpinum (R.Br.) Mett., Fil. Hort. Bot. Lips. 64 (1856)
  • Austroblechnum penna-marina subsp. alpina (R.Br.) A.R.Field, Austral. Syst. Bot. 33: 59 (2020)
Lectotype (selected by Chambers & Farrant 1996): Mont Tabul, Derwent [Table Mountain, Tasmania], R.Brown Iter Austral. No. 44, 1802–05, BM 001045994!
  • = Lomaria linearis Colenso, Tasmanian J. Nat. Sci. 1: 376 (1843)
Lectotype (selected by Allan 1961): near Te Waiiti [Te Whaiti], W. Colenso, Jan. 1842, WELT P003249!
  • = Lomaria pumila Raoul, Ann. Sci. Nat., Bot. sér. 3, 2: 115 (1844) nom. illeg., non Lomaria pumila Kaulf. 1824
  • Spicanta pumila (Raoul) Kuntze, Revis. Gen. Pl. 2, 822 (1891)
Lectotype (selected by Brownsey & Perrie 2019): Nouvelle-Zélande, Presqu’ȋle de Banks [New Zealand, Banks Peninsula], Raoul, 1843, P 01618104 (image!)
  • = Lomaria parvifolia Colenso, Trans. & Proc. New Zealand Inst. 20: 224 (1888)
  • Blechnum parvifolium (Colenso) C.Chr., Index Filic. 157 (1905)
Lectotype (selected by Chambers & Farrant 1996): Tongariro, H. Hill, com. W. Colenso 5/1890, K 001092741!
  • = Lomaria distans Colenso, Trans. & Proc. New Zealand Inst. 28: 615 (1896)
  • Blechnum hillii C.Chr., Index Filic. 155 (1905) nom. nov. pro Lomaria distans Colenso 1896
  • Struthiopteris distans (Colenso) Ching, Sunyatsenia 5: 243 (1940)
Lectotype (selected by Chambers & Farrant 1996): New Zealand, W. Colenso, pres. 1897, K 001092699!
From the Latin alpinus (alpine), a reference to the habitat of this subspecies.
Vernacular Name(s):
alpine hard fern; little hard fern

Rhizomes short- to long-creeping, up to 250 mm long (in herbarium material), bearing scales. Rhizome scales ovate or triangular, 1.3–3 mm long, 0.6–1.8 mm wide, pale brown, concolorous. Fronds strongly dimorphic; sterile fronds 15–400 mm long, prostrate or semi-erect; fertile fronds on same plant longer, 35–430 mm long, up to twice the length of the sterile, held erect. Sterile fronds. Stipes 5–190 mm long, red-brown, bearing scales that become more scattered distally. Rachises yellow-brown, grooved adaxially, glabrous or with a few scattered scales. Laminae 10–235 mm long, 3–25 mm wide, pinnatisect, linear to narrowly elliptic, tapering to a pinnatifid apex, similar colour on both surfaces, coriaceous, glabrous or with a few scattered scales. Pinnae in 12–44 pairs, closely spaced, triangular or oblong, straight, gradually reducing to the lamina base; the longest pinnae at or about the middle, 2–13 mm long, 1–6 mm wide, apices acute to obtuse, margins entire or shallowly dentate, bases adnate; the basal pinnae ± opposite. Veins free. Fertile fronds. Stipes 15–280 mm long. Laminae 15–240 mm long, 4–18 mm wide. Pinnae in 10–36 pairs, linear to narrowly oblong, falcate or straight, the longest 2–9 mm long, 1–3 mm wide, replaced by tiny sterile flanges at the lamina base. Sori and indusia in one row either side of costa, continuous along the length of the pinna.


Blechnum penna-marina subsp. alpina is characterised by its dimorphic fronds, free veins, pinnatisect sterile laminae, and continuous sori. It has a creeping rhizome, and sterile laminae that are linear to narrowly elliptic, bearing oblong or triangular pinnae with entire or shallowly dentate margins. The basal pinnae are usually opposite. The fertile fronds are up to twice as long as the sterile. The general shape and dimensions of the laminae in B. penna-marina subsp. alpina are similar to those of B. banksii and B. membranaceum, but B. penna-marina is distinguished by its creeping rhizome and much longer fertile fronds.


North Island: Northland, Auckland, Volcanic Plateau, Gisborne, Taranaki, Southern North Island.

South Island: Western Nelson, Sounds-Nelson, Marlborough, Westland, Canterbury, Otago, Southland, Fiordland.

Chatham Islands, Stewart Island, Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands, Campbell Island.

Altitudinal range: 0–1900 m.

In the North Island Blechnum penna-marina subsp. alpina is common in lowland to alpine areas from Hamilton and East Cape south to Wellington, with outlying populations near Warkworth, and at Ahipara. It ranges from near sea level up to 1375 m on Mt Taranaki and in the Ruahine Ranges. It is common in lowland to alpine areas throughout the South Island and Stewart Island. It grows from near sea level up to 1900 m in the Spenser Mountains, Nelson. It also extends to the Chatham Islands and most of the subantarctic islands.

Also Australia (New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania), Macquarie Island, Chile, Argentina, Falkland Islands (Chambers & Farrant 1996).


Blechnum penna-marina subsp. alpina is a terrestrial fern found in podocarp, broadleaved and beech forest, under mānuka and Salix species, in pine forest, in Sphagnum bog and wet pasture, and in subalpine scrub, tussock grassland and rocky herbfield. It grows on creek banks and in creek beds, on river terraces, at forest margins, along tracksides and roadsides, on clay banks, among rocks and scree, in dune hollows and coastal turf, in swamps and on peaty soils, and in subalpine habitats.

Indigenous (Non-endemic)

Jeßen & Lehmann (2018) attempted to make the new combination Austroblechnum penna-marina subsp. alpina but incorrectly cited the basionym of the subspecific epithet as Chambers & Farrant (1996), rather than Brown (1810). They also failed to provide the date and place of publication of Brown’s basionym, and hence their combination was not validly made. The combination was correctly made by Field (2020).

Brown, R. 1810: Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae et Insulae Van-Diemen. Johnson, London.
Brownlie, G. 1954: Introductory note to cyto-taxonomic studies of New Zealand ferns. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand 82: 665–666.
Brownsey, P.J.; Perrie, L.R. 2019: Taxonomic notes on the New Zealand flora: lectotypes and a new combination in Blechnaceae. New Zealand Journal of Botany 57(4): 238–248.
Brownsey, P.J.; Perrie, L.R. 2021: Blechnaceae. In: Breitwieser, I. (ed.) Flora of New Zealand — Ferns and Lycophytes. Fascicle 29. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln.
Chambers, T.C. 1954: Experimental studies on the genus Blechnum in New Zealand. Unpublished M.Sc. thesis. Auckland University College, University of New Zealand.
Chambers, T.C.; Farrant, P.A. 1996: Four subspecies of the fern Blechnum penna-marina (Blechnaceae: Pteridophyta). Fern Gazette 15(3): 91–100.
Ching, R.C. 1940: On natural classification of the family "Polypodiaceae". Sunyatsenia 5(4): 201–268.
Christensen, C. 1905–1906: Index Filicum. Hagerup, Copenhagen.
Colenso, W. 1843: Description of some new ferns lately discovered in New Zealand. Tasmanian Journal of Natural Science 1: 375–379.
Colenso, W. 1888: On newly discovered and imperfectly known ferns of New Zealand, with critical observations. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 20: 212–234.
Colenso,W. 1896: Cryptogams: A description of two new ferns, a new Lycopodium, and a new moss, lately detected in our New Zealand forests. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 28: 615–618.
de Lange, P.J.; Rolfe, J.R.; Barkla J.W.; Courtney, S.P.; Champion, P.D.; Perrie, L.R.; Beadel, S.N.; Ford, K.A.; Breitwieser, I.; Schönberger, I.; Hindmarsh-Walls, R.; Heenan, P.B.; Ladley, K. 2018: Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2017. New Zealand Threat Classification Series No. 22. [Not Threatened]
de Lange, P.J.; Rolfe, J.R.; Champion, P.D.; Courtney, S.P.; Heenan, P.B.; Barkla, J.W.; Cameron, E.K.; Norton, D.A.; Hitchmough, R.A. 2013: Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012. New Zealand Threat Classification Series 3. Department of Conservation, Wellington. [Not Threatened]
Field, A.R. 2020: Classification and typification of Australian lycophytes and ferns based on Pteridophyte Phylogeny Group classification PPG 1. Australian Systematic Botany 33: 1–102.
Jeßen, S.; Lehmann, L. 2018: Austroblechnum: Südrippenfarn. Sammelblätter Gebirgspflanzen 1–7.
Kuntze, C.E.O. 1891: Revisio Generum Plantarum. Vol. 2. Arthur Felix, Leipzig.
Mettenius, G.H. 1856: Filices Horti Botanici Lipsiensis. Leopold Voss, Leipzig.
Raoul, E. 1844: Choix de plantes de la Nouvelle-Zélande. Recueillies et décrites par M.E. Raoul. Annales des Sciences Naturelles; Botanique sér. 3, 2: 113–123.
Sprengel, K.P.J. 1827: Systema vegetabilium. Editio decima sexta. Vol. 4. Dieterich, Göttingen.