The New Zealand Fern

One of the most prominent features of our native bush is the proliferation and variety of native ferns in the undergrowth. There are about 190 species of native ferns found in New Zealand. The silver fern has become an emblem for our nation commonly seen on the clothing of teams representing our country such as the All Blacks and the Silver Ferns netball team. The unfurling fern frond is also a common symbol representing new life.

The mamaku or black ponga is the tallest and most common of our tree ferns. It grows to a height of 15 m and the green fronds can extend up to 5 m. It grows throughout the country and is common in damp gullies.

The crown fern or piupiu is found throughout the country particularly in drier areas, where it often forms a significant part of the ground cover. Its large green fronds have a silvery grey underside.

Some distinctive forms are found. The umbrella fern has stems which radiate outwards and droop down forming an umbrella shape. The hounds tongue and kidney ferns are shaped like their namesakes. The hen and chicken fern is a graceful fern which is named for the tiny plantlets which often grow at the tip of its fronds.

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