Scientific Name:
Lygodium articulatum A.Rich., Essai Fl. Nouv.-Zél., 96, t. 15 (1832)
Lectotype (selected by Brownsey & Perrie 2013): Baie des Îles, Nouvelle Zélande [Bay of Islands, Northland, New Zealand], Astrolabe, Herb. A. Richard in Herb. E. Drake, P 00523227!
  • = Lygodium gracilescens Colenso, Trans. & Proc. New Zealand Inst. 28: 620 (1896)
Lectotype (selected by Allan 1961): no locality, Colenso s.n., WELT P003360!
From the Latin articulatus (jointed), a reference to the pinnules which are articulated to the costae.
Vernacular Name(s):
bushman's mattress; mākaka; makamaka; mangemange

Rhizomes long-creeping; bearing shiny, chestnut-brown, septate hairs, 1.5–3 mm long. Adult fronds of indeterminate growth, twining and climbing to tops of trees. Stipes pale brown, sparsely hairy at base. Rachises pale brown, tough and wiry. Pinnae arising alternately along rachis. Sterile and fertile pinnae, or sometimes sterile and fertile segments on one pinna, markedly dimorphic. Sterile pinnae 60–175 mm long, rarely to 220 mm long; costae branching dichotomously or pseudo-dichotomously 2–4 times, with a sterile bud and long, colourless, acicular hairs present in the axil of the first dichotomy; ultimate segments narrowly ovate or narrowly oblong, 30–120 mm long, or rarely 160 mm long, 5–20 mm wide, apices acuminate, acute or round, margins entire, bases acute to almost truncate, articulated to costae, bright green above, blue-green below, herbaceous, glabrous. Fertile pinnae 35–105 mm long; costae branching pseudo-dichotomously 5–8 times, with a sterile bud and long colourless acicular hairs present in the axil of the first dichotomy; segments ovate, broadly ovate or broader than long, 3–30 mm long, 3–22 mm wide, apices acute or obtuse, deeply dissected, bases attenuate, articulated to costae, glabrous. Veins free. Sporangia arranged on marginal lobes of the fertile segments, 2–18 per sporogenous lobe.


Lygodium articulatum is easily recognised by its twisting, climbing habit – the only fern of its type in New Zealand. It grows from a long-creeping terrestrial rhizome and produces adult climbing fronds of indeterminate length, which can develop into dense tangles. The markedly different fertile and sterile segments are also very distinctive.


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

Altitudinal range: 0–950 m.

Lygodium articulatum occurs from North Cape, throughout Northland and Auckland, south to the King Country, Kaimai Ranges and the eastern Bay of Plenty. It grows from near sea level, reaching about 740 m on Mt Hereheretaunga near Te Kaha, and 950 m on Mt Te Aroha.


Common as a climbing fern in mānuka and kānuka scrub, and in kauri, podocarp and broadleaved forest, in lowland and montane areas of northern New Zealand.

Indigenous (Endemic)

n = c. 70 (Brownlie 1961). This is not consistent with the base number of 29 and 30 for Lygodium given by Smith et al. (2006), and needs reassessment.

Brownlie, G. 1961: Additional chromosome numbers – New Zealand ferns. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Botany 1: 1–4.
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. 2013: Taxonomic notes on the New Zealand flora:the status of Schizaea australis and S. fistulosa, and lectotypes in Lygodiaceae and Schizaeaceae. New Zealand Journal of Botany 51(2): 79–87.
Brownsey, P.J.; Perrie, L.R. 2014: Lygodiaceae. In: Breitwieser, I; Heenan, P.B.; Wilton, A.D. (ed.) Flora of New Zealand — Ferns and Lycophytes. Fascicle 2. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln.
Brownsey, P.J.; Smith-Dodsworth, J.C. 2000: New Zealand ferns and allied plants. Edition 2. David Bateman, Auckland.
Colenso, W. 1896: A description of three ferns, believed to be undescribed, discovered more than fifty years ago in the northern district of New Zealand. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 28: 618–622.
Dawson, M.I.; Brownsey, P.J.; Lovis, J.D. 2000: Index of chromosome numbers of indigenous New Zealand pteridophytes. New Zealand Journal of Botany 38(1): 25–46.
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]
Large, M.F.; Braggins, J.E. 1991: Spore atlas of New Zealand ferns and fern allies. SIR Publishing, Wellington.
Richard, A. 1832: Essai d'une Flore de la Nouvelle Zélande. In: Dumont d'Urville, J. Voyage de découvertes de l'Astrolabe. Botanique. Tastu, Paris.
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.