Hymenophyllum multifidum


Hymenophyllum: Membranous leaf, from the Greek humen and phullon
multifidum: much divided; from the Latin multus and findere; the leaf

Common Name(s)

Much-divided 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 multifidum (G. Forst.) Sw.



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



Mecodium multifidum (G. Forst.) Copel.; Hymenophyllum multifidum var. oligocarpum (Colenso) Domin; Trichomanes multifidum G.Forst.; Hymenophyllum multifidum var. truncatum (Colenso) Domin; Hymenophyllum multifidum var. alpinum (Colenso) Domin; Hymenophyllum oligocarpum Colenso; Hymenophyllum truncatum Colenso; Davallia multifidum (G.Forst.) Spreng.; Hymenophyllum alpinum Colenso


Endemic. New Zealand. North, South, Stewart, Chatham, Antipodes, Campbell and Auckland Islands.


Widespread in coastal to montane forest and subalpine scrub. A common ground cover of the forest floor, as well as epiphytic, also common on rock faces, boulders and on shaded rock overhangs


Terrestrial or epiphytic fern often forming thick patches on substrate. Rhizomes long-creeping, slender, much branched and interwoven. Fronds bright or dark green. Stipes 20-100 mm, slender, glabrous, sometimes winged above; rachises winged throughout. Laminae broader than long or elliptic to deltoid, 3-4-pinnate, 30-200 × 15-100 mm, glabrous. Ultimate segments linear, margins toothed. Sori large and conspicuous, on short segments, 1-several on each primary pinna, usually set at 90 degrees to plane of frond. Indusium connate, tubular; flaps margins entire, sometimes also undulose, receptacle usually exserted. Description adapted from Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth (2000).

Similar Taxa

Except for reduced specimens, Hymenophyllum multifidium is easily recognised by the deeply toothed pinnae, and prominent sori bent at right-angles to the plane of the frond, by the tubular indusia, entire often undulose indusial flaps and exserted recaptacle. Reduced states can be confused with Hymenophyllum minimum which is easily distinguished by the solitary sori terminating the rachises, and by the toothed indusial flaps and spinose abaxial surfaces of the indusia, and from H. cupressiforme by the stipe which is only partially winged rather than winged throughout, and by the sori which are bent at right-angles to the plane of the frond. The indusial flaps of Hymenophyllum cupressiforme are often slightly toothed.



Flower Colours

No Flowers



Propagation Technique

Difficult - should not be removed from the wild


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 52

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 (20 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