Hymenophyllum sanguinolentum


Hymenophyllum: Membranous leaf, from the Greek humen and phullon
sanguinolentum: smelling like blood; from the Latin sanguis and olere; fern's smell especially when dried

Common Name(s)

Filmy fern, Piripiri

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 sanguinolentum (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 sanguinolentum (G. Forst.) C. Presl; Trichomanes sanguinolentum G.Forst.; Hymenophyllum polyanthos var. sanguinolentum (G.Forst.) Hook. ex Hook.f.; Hymenophyllum sanguinolentum var. lophocarpum (Colenso) Domin; Hymenophyllum polyanthos sensu Raoul; Sphaerocionium sanguinolentum (G.Forst.) C.Presl; Hymenophyllum cristulatum Rosenst.; Hymenophyllum lophocarpum Colenso


Indigenous. New Zealand; Three Kings, North, South, Stewart Islands. Also Cook Islands (Rarotonga). Previously regarded as endemic to New Zealand, Hymenophyllum sanguinolentum was discovered on Rarotonga in July 2010.


Coastal to subalpine. A very common and widespread species of closed or open forest and shrub-land. Also a common species of shaded canyon walls, cliff faces, rock tors, boulder-field and talus slopes. Hymenophyllum sanguinolentum is extremely drought resistant and as such one of the few filmy ferns to grow within drought-prone habitats.


Terrestrial or epiphytic fern forming dense patches on suitable substrates. Rhizomes long-creeping, slender. Frond dark green, strongly aromatic, scent somewhat sanguinely metallic (especially when dry). Stipes 20-90 mm long, slender; stipes and rachises sparsely hairy especially toward and at base, narrowly winged for most of length, black, wing often zig-zagged in upper portion. Laminae 50-250(-300) × 30-120 mm, ovate, elliptic to elliptic-deltoid, 3-4-pinnate, glabrescent. Ultimate segments 8-12 mm wide, oblong, margins entire though often slightly undulose toward distal portion of frond. Sori on short branches in distal portion of frond, many borne on each primary pinna. Indusium ovoid to ovoid-elliptic, abaxially crested by 3(-5) longitudinal ridges; indusial flaps entire. Receptacle included.

Similar Taxa

Easily distinguished when fertile by the crest backs of the indusium. Sterile material can be recognised by the black zig-zagged rachis wing and smooth pinna margins. Sodden or dried material smells strongly like dried blood (or as some people sense it like wet rusted iron). Pressed specimens stain paper yellow-brown or dark brown. Hymenophyllum sanguinolentum is very similar to H. villosum. Hymenophyllum villosum is restricted to upper montane and subalpine habitats but it may be found growing with H. sanguinolentum. From that species H. villosum differs by its hairy lamina and ellipsoid indusia whose abaxial surfaces are smooth, never crested like those of H. sanguinolentum.



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 (21 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