Asplenium decurrens


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.

Common Name(s)

northern shore 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 decurrens Willd.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class



Asplenium obtusatum subsp. northlandicum Brownsey, Asplenium northlandicum (Brownsey) Ogle, Asplenium sarmentosum Willd.


Indigenous. New Zealand: Kermadec, Three Kings and North Islands from Te Paki to just south of the Tongaporutu River in the west at to Lottin point in the east. Present in Australia


On coastal rocks or amongst petrel scrub especially in places exposed to salt spray


Rhizome stout, often forming a hard woody mass above ground, bearing brown, shiny, ovate, acuminate scales up to 15 ~ 4 mm. Stipes 20-180 mm long, dark brown at base, green above, stout, covered in narrowly triangular scales with acute or acuminate apices. Laminae lanceolate to ovate, 40-200 ~ 20-70 mm, dull green, very thick and fleshy, pinnate. Raches green, stout, prominently grooved and scaly. Pinnae 4-18 pairs, narrowly ovate to oblong, obtuse to acute, crenate-serrate to entire, cuneate at base, 10-40 ~ 7-12 mm, scaly on the underside. Sori up to 10 mm long, not reaching to lamina edge. Spores (39)45-52(60) microns long, (25)29-33(38) microns wide

Similar Taxa

Recognized by the penchant for exposed sea cliffs; by the simply pinnate, thick and fleshy fronds which are < 30 mm wide; by the stipe and rachis which is scaly; by the usually < 8 pairs of pinnae; and by the pinnae bearing scales on the underside only. Asplenium obtusatum differs from A. decurrens by its allopatric distribution, ovate scales, mostly larger fronds, smaller spores and tetraploid chromosome number (2n = 144 cf. 2n = 288 in A. decurrens)


Not applicable - spore producing

Flower Colours

No Flowers


Not applicable - spore producing

Propagation Technique

Easily grown but generally rather slow. A spectacular pot plant.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 288

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family



Fact Sheet Prepared for NZPCN by: P.J. de Lange 29 August 2007. Description adapted from Brownsey (1977).

References and further reading

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

This page last updated on 20 Dec 2016