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 acicular or capitate hairs. Fronds monomorphic. Stipes scaly and hairy. Laminae 2-pinnate to 3-pinnate-pinnatifid, herbaceous, lower 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 multicellular and acicular, or unicellular and acicular or capitate; glandular hairs and sessile spherical glands absent. 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, bearing short capitate hairs. Sporangia bearing capitate hairs near the annulus, lacking hairs on the stalk. Spores monolete, minutely reticulate and with slight wings.


Allan (1961) included all New Zealand species of Thelypteridaceae within a broadly construed Thelypteris. However, Macrothelypteris is now widely recognised as a distinct genus of about nine species in the Old World tropics and subtropics and the Pacific (Holttum 1969, 1971; Smith et al. 2006). It is characterised by a short-creeping rhizome, rhizome scales which are narrow and thickened at their bases, often with acicular or capitate marginal hairs, 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 capitate hairs near the annulus.


A genus of about nine species distributed in Madagascar, subtropical and tropical Asia and Malesia, Australia and the Pacific islands (Holttum 1969); 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; none 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).

Bostock, P.D. 1998: Thelypteridaceae. In: Flora of Australia. Vol. 48. 327–358.
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.
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.