Hymenophyllum frankliniae


Hymenophyllum: Membranous leaf, from the Greek humen and phullon

Common Name(s)

Rusty filmy 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 - Not Threatened


Hymenophyllum frankliniae Colenso



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



Hymenophyllum ferrugineum Colla of New Zealand authors, Sphaerocionium ferrugineum (Colla) Copel.; Hymenophyllum aeruginosum var. franklinianum (Colenso) Hook.; Hymenophyllum subtilissimum Kunze; Sphaerocionium frankliniae (Colenso) K.Iwats.; Hymenophyllum aeruginosum sensu Hook.f.; Hymenophyllum frankliniae Colenso; Hymenophyllum franklinianum Colenso


Endemic. New Zealand: North, South, Stewart Islands.


Coastal to montane. In closed forest where it is usually found epiphytic on the trunks of tree ferns (especially species of Dicksonia) and kamahi (Weinmannia racemosa). Occasionally (especially in very wet forest) it may be found growing on clay banks or amongst mosses on damp boulders.


Epiphytic (rarely terrestrial) fern forming dense patches usually on tree ferns. Rhizomes finely hairy, long creeping, gracile. Stipes 20-90 mm long, thin, brittle, not winged, covered in minute stellate hairs; rachises narrowly winged in upper part. Laminae narrowly elliptic to narrowly ovate, 2-3-pinnate, 50-200 × 20-50 mm, dull olive-green to brown-green, densely invested in yellow-brown to red-brown stellate hairs. Ultimately segments oblong, crowded, margins smooth. Sori terminating ultimate segments, slightly sunk in lamina, many on each primary pinna. Indusial flaps with smooth margins, abaxially stellate-hairy. Description adapted from Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth (2000).

Similar Taxa

A very distinctive species readily recognised by its penchant for growing on the trunks of tree ferns, and by the dull olive-green to brown-green fronds that are densely covered in yellow-brown or red-brown stellate hairs. It is unlikely to be confused with any other species in New Zealand with the possible exception of Hymenophyllum malingii. Hymenophyllum malingii is a montane to subalpine species that is usually found on the trunks of kaikawaka (Libocedrus bidwillii) and has fronds that are superficially similar to H. frankliniae because they too are densely invested in stellate hairs. It is however, easily distinguished from H. frankliniae by its habitat preferences and by the narrow, tubular ultimate segments of the pinnae. Hymenophllum frankliniae has long been known as H. ferrugineum in New Zealand. However, it is now recognised that H. ferrugineum is endemic to Southern South America and the Jan Fernandez Islands.



Flower Colours

No Flowers



Propagation Technique

Difficult - should not be removed from the wild


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 72

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 (18 April 2011). Description adapted from Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth (2000).

References and further reading

Brownsey, P.J.; Smith-Dodsworth, J.C. 2000: New Zealand Ferns and Allied Plants. Auckland, David Bateman

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