Fork ferns and whisk ferns

Fork fern (Tmesipteris tannenisis). Photo: Jeremy Rolfe.

Fork ferns (Tmesipteris) are epiphytic and have creeping stems but no roots. The leathery forked leaves are spirally arranged around the stem and sporangia are fused in pairs on the upper surface of the leaves. There are four species of fork fern in New Zealand: 

Whisk fern (Psilotum nudum). Photo: John Barkla

Whisk ferns (Psilotum) have no true leaves or roots. It is the stem that is photosynthetic and repeatedly forks and so forms a small twiggy bush. Whisk ferns have a rhizome that anchors it to the soil. There are two species of whisk fern, only one of which, Psilotum nudum, occurs in New Zealand.

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This page last updated on 30 Nov 2013