Tmesipteris sigmatifolia


Tmesipteris: From the Greek tmesis (cutting) and pteris (fern), alluding to the forked appendages on fertile fronds

Common Name(s)

Fossil Fern, Fork Fern

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 - Sparse


Tmesipteris sigmatifolia Chinnock



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



Tmesipteris tannensis var. elongata Sahni


Indigenous. North and South Islands. In the North Island recorded from Te Paki south to about Thames in the east and near Wanganui in the west. In the South Island recorded from Nelson, north-west Nelson and Westland. Present also in New Caledonia.


Coastal and lowland forest. Usually epiphytic on tree fern trunks but also found growing terrestrially in deep leaf litter. In the northern part of its range it grows mostly within kauri (Agathis australis (D.Don.) Lindl.) forest.


Plants usually epiphytic sometimes terrestrial. Rhizomes far-creeping, buried within host bark or tissue, or buried within leaf litter, branched, lacking roots. Aerial stems pendulous, 60-280 mm long, undivided. Lamina spirally arranged, 10-20 mm long, bright green to dark green, distinctly sigmoid or narrow-oblong, coriaceous, apices blunt, midrib distinct, prolonged beyond lamina as a fine mucro. Sporangia (synangia) yellow-green, confined to the base of the upper side of the lamina, somewhat inconspicuous, unequal, testiculate with rounded apices, usually confined to upper portion of stem.

Similar Taxa

Distinguished from the other New Zealand species by the sigmoid (sigma-shaped), mucronate, leaf-like lamina and small, rather inconspicuous, unequally sized, testiculate pairs of sporangia.


Not applicable - spore producing

Flower Colours

No Flowers


Not applicable - spore producing

Propagation Technique

Difficult - should not be removed from the wild


A naturally uncommon and biologically sparse species. It is never common at any particular site and is often known from only a few specimens over wide parts of its range. It would be fair to say that it is undercollected and so in part our knowledge of this species is inadequate. Nevertheless it does not seem to be threatened, partly because it requires mature forest, much of which is already protected over large parts of its known range.

Chromosome No.

2n = 208

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available


Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (June 2009). Description adpated from Chinnock (1975).

References and further reading

Chinnock, R.J. 1975: The New Zealand species of Tmesipteris (Psilotaceae). New Zealand Journal of Botany 13: 743-768

This page last updated on 19 Jan 2014