Asplenium hookerianum var. hookerianum


Asplenium: From the Greek a- 'without' and splene 'spleen', a northern hemisphere species, the black spleenwort (Asplenium adiantum-nigrum), was once believed to be a cure for diseases of the spleen.
hookerianum: Named after Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (born 1817) - a world famous botanist who travelled on the Antarctic expedition of 1839 under the command of Sir James Ross and wrote "Handbook of New Zealand Flora" published in 1864-67 describing many specimens sent to Kew by collectors. He died in 1911 and has a memorial stone at Westminster Abbey London.

Common Name(s)

Hookers spleenwort

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Asplenium hookerianum Colenso var. hookerianum



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class



Asplenium adiantoides Raoul; Asplenium adiantoides var. minus Hook f.; Asplenium adiantoides var. hookeriana Hook. f.; Asplenium ornatum Colenso; Asplenium svmmetricum Colenso; Asplenium hookerianum Colenso


Indigenous. New Zealand North, South, Chatham and Stewart islands. Scarce north of the Waikato. Present (but extremely uncommon) in Tasmania and South Eastern Australia.


Coastal to alpine. Usually on shaded clay banks or rocky outcrops in scrub and open forest, or on the ground in disturbed forest remnants.


Rhizome short, erect, bearing numerous brown, ovate, acuminate scales up to 10 × 2 mm. Stipes 20-100 mm long, pale brown below, green above, densely covered in small, subulate to narrowly ovate scales with filiform apices. Laminae lanceolate to rhombic, 40-250 × 10-150 mm, dark green, thin, normally bipinnate but often pinnate when young and almost tripinnate in well-grown specimens. Raches green, slender, and very scaly. Pinnae 5-15 pairs, very narrowly ovate to ovate, obtuse to acuminate, long-stalked, 10-80 × 5-20 mm, basal pair pointing upwards when fresh. Pinnules stalked, 3-10 pairs, linear to suborbicular, crenate to deeply incised (or almost pinnate), 3-12 × 3-10 mm, tending to lie at 90° to plane of frond in well-grown specimens. Sori sub-marginal on narrow pinnules, remote from margins on broad segments, 1-3 mm long

Similar Taxa

Most likely to be confused with A. bulbiferum G.Forst. from which it differs by the absence of bulbils. Asplenium richardii (Hook.f.) Hook.f. is somewhat similar but usually much larger, with a stouter stipe, and the ultimate segments are linear, mostly < 1 mm wide; and the pinnae and pinnules are crowded and overlapping. Asplenium richardii is scarce and exclusively alpine in the North Island, and more common in the higher altitudinal part of the drier, eastern South Island than A. hookerianum. Asplenium hookerianum is distinguished from other asplenia by the non-creeping, tufted, growth habit, dull rather than glossy, thin fronds which bear mostly < 15 pairs of 2-3-4-pinnae, with the pinnules distinctly held on slender stalks, and which are not broadened in region of sorus. The sori are mostly submarginal, or if remote from margin, then they are < 4 mm long. Asplenium hookerianum var. colensoi Colenso differs by its much narrower pinnules (see Fact Sheet).


Not applicable - spore producing

Flower Colours

No Flowers


Not applicable - spore producing

Propagation Technique

Easily grown, and an excellent pot plant. However, rather slow growing, and as with all asplenia prone to infestations of scale and mealy bugs.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 144

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Minute spores are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Where To Buy

Not Commercially available


Description adapted from Brownsey (1977)

References and further reading

Brownsey, P.J. 1977: A taxonomic revision of the New Zealand species of Asplenium. New Zealand Journal of Botany 15: 39-86.

Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 2009 Vol. 11 No. 4 pp. 285-309

This page last updated on 10 May 2014