Subordinate Taxa
Scientific Name:
Macrothelypteris (H.Itô) Ching, Acta Phytotax. Sin. 8: 308 (1963)
Type Taxon:
Macrothelypteris oligophlebia (Baker) Ching
From the Greek makros (large), and thelypteris (the name of a fern), a reference to the large fronds in this genus.

Terrestrial ferns. Rhizomes short-creeping or suberect, scaly. Rhizome scales narrowly ovate, thickened at their bases, with marginal and superficial hairs. Fronds monomorphic. Stipes scaly and hairy. Laminae 2-pinnate to 3-pinnate-pinnatifid, or rarely 1-pinnate-pinnatifid (not NZ), herbaceous, proximal pinnae not reduced in size; aerophores lacking; abaxial surface of laminae bearing scales and/or hairs; scales pallid, narrow and with or without ciliate margins, or absent; hairs acicular and either unicellular or multicellular; glandular hairs absent; short-stalked spherical glands sometimes present. Veins free, branched in the pinnules and not reaching the margins. Sori small, often irregularly shaped, indusiate (NZ) or exindusiate (not NZ); paraphyses absent. Indusia tiny, glabrous or bearing short-stalked glands. Sporangia bearing short-stalked glands near the annulus, lacking hairs on the stalk. Spores monolete, minutely reticulate and with slight wings.


Allan (1961) included all indigenous New Zealand species of Thelypteridaceae within a broadly construed Thelypteris. However, Macrothelypteris is now widely recognised as a distinct genus of about 10 species in the Old World tropics and subtropics and the Pacific (Holttum 1969, 1971; Smith et al. 2006; Fawcett & Smith 2021). It is characterised by a short-creeping rhizome, rhizome scales which are narrow and thickened at their bases, often with marginal hairs, usually at least bipinnate laminae, veins in the pinnules which are branched and do not reach the margins, small sori with very small indusia, and sporangia that bear short-stalked glands near the annulus.


A genus of 10 species distributed in Madagascar, subtropical and tropical Asia and Malesia, Australia and the Pacific islands (Fawcett & Smith 2021); two species in Australia (Bostock 1998) and three in the Pacific (Holttum 1977). Macrothelypteris torresiana is naturalised in the American tropics and subtropics (Holttum 1969), and in southern Africa (Crouch et al. 2011). One species in New Zealand; not endemic.

Indigenous (Non-endemic)
Number of species in New Zealand within Macrothelypteris (H.Itô) Ching
Indigenous (Non-endemic)1

The base chromosome number in Macrothelypteris is x = 31 (Holttum 1971; Smith 1990; Fawcett & Smith 2021).

Bostock, P.D. 1998: Thelypteridaceae. In: Flora of Australia. Vol. 48. 327–358.
Brownsey, P.J.; Perrie, L.R. 2022: Thelypteridaceae. Edition 2. In: Glenny, D. (ed.) Flora of New Zealand - Ferns and Lycophytes. Fascicle 16. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln.
Brownsey, P.J.; Smith-Dodsworth, J.C. 2000: New Zealand ferns and allied plants. Edition 2. David Bateman, Auckland.
Ching, R.C. 1963: A reclassification of the family Thelypteridaceae from the mainland of Asia. Acta Phytotaxonomica Sinica 8: 289–335.
Crouch, N.R.; Klopper, R.R.; Burrows, J.E.; Burrows, S.M. 2011: Ferns of southern Africa. A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature, Cape Town.
Fawcett, S.; Smith, A.R. 2021: A generic classification of the Thelypteridaceae. Sida, Botanical Miscellany 59. BRIT Press, Fort Worth Botanic Garden/Botanical Research Institute of Texas, USA.
Holttum, R.E. 1969: Studies in the family Thelypteridaceae. The genera Phegopteris, Pseudophegopteris and Macrothelypteris. Blumea 19: 5–32.
Holttum, R.E. 1971: Studies in the family Thelypteridaceae III: a new system of genera in the Old World. Blumea 19: 17–52.
Holttum, R.E. 1977: The family Thelypteridaceae in the Pacific and Australasia. Allertonia 1: 169–234.
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.
Smith, A.R. 1990: Thelypteridaceae. In: Kramer, K.U.; Green, P.S. Pteridophytes and gymnosperms. Vol. 1. In: Kubitzki, K. (ed.) The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants. Springer-Verlag, Berlin. 263–272.
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.