Hypolepis amaurorachis


Hypolepis: From the greek hypo (under) and lepis (scale), referring to the position of the sori on the ferns

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon

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 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Sparse


2012 - EF, SO, Sp
2009 - SO, EF


Hypolepis amaurorachis (Kunze) Hook.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class



Hypolepis subantarctica Brownsey et Chinnock; Polypodium rugosulum sensu Hook.f.; Polypodium viscidum sensu Hook.f.; Hypolepis rugosula sensu Dobbie; Hypolepis subantarctica Brownsey et Chinnock; Polypodium punctatum sensu Cheeseman; Cheilanthes amaurorachis Kunze; Dryopteris punctata sensu Cheeseman


Indigenous. New Zealand: Southern South Island (Catlins and Fiordland coastline), also on Rekohu (Chatham Island), and both Auckland and Campbell Islands. Present in Victoria and Tasmania (Australia).


A short-lived species favouring freshly disturbed ground in coastal habitats and lowland forest (Not far from the coast). Often frequenting the margins of seal haul outs, and sea bird colonies, also present along track sides. On Campbell Island it grows where Elephant seals congregate and also in and around tussock grasses in places kept open by the passage of seals and sea birds.


Rhizome long-creeping, 20–25 mm diam., covered in red-brown hairs. Stipes 70–230(–450) mm long, 1.0–3.5 mm diam., dark red-brown, bearing abundant colourless or pale-brown glandular hairs up to 2 mm long. Laminae narrowly ovate to ovate, 150¬550 × 100–350 mm, bipinnate at apex, tripinnate at base. Rachis dark red-brown at base becoming paler above and often green at apex, densely covered in colourless or pale-brown glandular hairs up to 1.5 mm long. Primary pinnae in 15–30 pairs + pinnatifid apex, opposite or alternate, lower arising at (20–)30–70°, upper ones at 70–90°, longest ones below the middle 50–200 × 20–90 mm; lowest pairs 30–100 mm apart, middle ones 15–50 mm apart; upper ones parallel-sided or narrowly ovate, lower ones ovate or narrowly ovate. Secondary pinnae ovate to ± parallel-sided, longest 5–45 × 10–20 mm, those on the lower pinnae decreasing markedly in length along the pinnae. Tertiary pinnae up to 6 × 10 mm, deeply incised reaching margin at a tooth apex. Hairs: colourless glandular hairs (0.3–0.7 mm on laminae, up to 1 mm on midribs) interspersed with a few bristly colourless hairs densely covering both surfaces of lamina, lamina margins, and pinna midribs and costae. Sori in 1–3 pairs on ultimate pinnules, originating away from margin, slightly protected by reflexed margins of pinnules. Spores pale brown, echinate.

Similar Taxa

Most frequently confused with the hybrid H. ambigua x H. rufobarbata, which has a superficially similarity. However, this hybrid is sterile (the spores are aborted), and has much larger, coarser, dark green to reddish-green fronds that are scarcely as glandular hairy, and so less sticky. It could also be confused with H. lactea but that species has more strongly deltoid dark green fronds, darker rachises, and shorter, colourless glandular hairs on the fronds. These often rupture leaving a milky exudate covering the frond surfaces. H. amaurorhacis could also be confused with H. ambigua. However, that species has much larger, more coarsely divided non-glandular hairy fronds.


Not applicable - spore producing

Flower Colours

No Flowers


Not applicable - spore producing

Propagation Technique

Unknown. However, probably easily grown in a cool, peaty soil in full sun.


Hypolepis amaurorachis is a naturally uncommon, biological sparse species occupying freshly distrubed coastal and lowland habitats. It is probably short-lived and so transient, appearing in suitable habitats as and when the opportunity arise.

Chromosome No.

2n = 104

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


Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (6 March 2008). Description from Brownsey & Chinnock (1984).

References and further reading

Brownsey, P.J.; Chinnock, R.J. 1984: A Taxonomic revision of the New Zealand species of Hypolepis. New Zealand Journal of Botany 22: 43-80.

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 11: 285-309

This page last updated on 30 May 2015