Hymenophyllum pulcherrimum


Hymenophyllum: Membranous leaf, from the Greek humen and phullon
pulcherrimum: very beautiful; from the Latin pulcherrimus

Common Name(s)

filmy fern, tufted 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 pulcherrimum 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



Mecodium pulcherrimum (Colenso) Copel.


Endemic. New Zealand: North, South, Stewart and Auckland Islands (from Te Moehau and Mt Pirongia south).


Lowland to montane (mostly montane in the northern part of its range), in closed forest. Usually epiphytic, rarely found growing on rocks.


Tufted mostly epiphytic fern. Rhizomes erect, short-creeping, sparsely to densely covered in red, bristly hairs. Stipes 30-150 mm long, rather stout, glabrescent; stipes and rachises winged almost to base, wing thickness variable for entire length. Fronds pendulous, pale green, glabrous. Laminae 100-400(-600) × 40-150 mm. ovate, narrowly elliptic to elliptic, 3-4-pinnate. Ultimate segments oblong, undulose (weakly to strongly so), margins smooth. Sori arising on short branches near the ends of the ultimate segments; many on each primary pinna. Involucre ovoid to ellipsoid; indusial flaps entire.

Similar Taxa

Easily recognised by the tufted growth habit, large pendulous pale green, glabrous, crinkly (wavy) fronds, and by the smooth margins of the stipe and rachis wing and smooth pinnae margins.



Flower Colours

No Flowers



Propagation Technique

Difficult - should not be removed from the wild.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 22

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