Asplenium shuttleworthianum


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)

Shuttleworths spleenwort

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 - Range Restricted


2012 - RR, SO, Sp
2009 - SO, OL


Asplenium shuttleworthianum Kunze



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 flaccidum var. shuttleworthianum (Kunze) Hook.f.; Asplenium bulbiferum var. shuttleworthianum (Kunze) G.M.Thomson


Indigenous. New Zealand: Kermadec Islands group (Meyers, Raoul and McCauley Islands). A tropical species widespread in the Pacific and reaching its world southern limit on the Kermadec Islands.


Coastal to montane. In scrub, forest, or on shaded rock ledges. May be found either on the ground or as an epiphyte.


Rhizome short, erect, bearing red-brown, linear attenuate scales. Stipes up to 150 mm long, green above, brown below, sparingly covered in small linear scales with long filiform apices. Laminae oblong to elliptic, 150-900 × 100-250 mm, yellow-green, coriaceous, 3- to 4-pinnate. Raches green, almost lacking scales, prominently grooved. Pinnae ovate to narrowly ovate, acuminate, stalked, up to 120 × 50 mm. Secondary pinnae linear to lanceolate, up to 15 × 2 mm, often pinnatifid. Ultimate segments linear, subacute, slightly expanded in the region of the sori. Sori near tips of ultimate segments, solitary, broad, submarginal, c.2 mm long.

Similar Taxa

Of the New Zealand asplenia this species is most likely to be confused with A. appendiculatum (Labill.) C.Presl which is not known from the Kermadec Islands but distinguished from its very glossy, bright to dark green more heavily divided fronds, its very large spores, and by the characteristic broadening of the ultimate pinnules in the region of the sori.


Not applicable - spore producing

Flower Colours

No Flowers


Not applicable - spore producing

Propagation Technique

Easily grown. However, as it is cold sensitive it is best grown indoors. An excellent and very attractive pot plant. Like all other asplenia it is prone to scale and mealy bug infestations, which if let uncontrolled can be devastating.


A Naturally Uncommon, range-restricted endemic at its world southern limit. Although not that common on the Kermadec Islands, this is natural rather than induced and there are no known threats.

Chromosome No.

2n = c.288

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

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




Description from Brownset (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