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In The Hills In The Hills 2019-08

Lastreopsis hispida < Species index > Laurelia novae-zelandiae

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This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper Volume 91, # 7, August 2019

August in the hills with Michele Dickson and Chris Horne

Lastreopsis velutina, , velvet fern

velvetFern.jpg: 737x584, 207k (2019 Aug 03 21:37)
Lastreopsis velutina, , velvet fern
Photo: Jeremy Rolfe

Lastreopsis velutina is one of four similar-looking ferns in the Lastreopsis genus, within the large fern family Dryopteridaceae. It is notable for the unmistakable velvet feel of the fronds which distinguishes it from the other three species.

For general comments about ferns, see Asplenium oblongifolium in the October 2015 Tramper, and a description of the life cycle of ferns in Asplenium bulbiferum, in the December 2015 Tramper.

Origin of the botanical name

The name Lastreopsis is derived from lastrea, a fern known to the ancient Greeks, and opsis meaning ‘looks like’. Velutina means ‘velvety’. Lastrea was named after Austrian botanist Charles Jean Louis Delastre (1792-1859).

Distribution and habitat

Velvet fern is endemic, found on Te Ika a Māui/ North Island and from Cape Farewell to Dunedin on Te Waipounamu/South Island. Look for velvet fern in drier coastal and lowland forest. It is less common than the other Lastreopsis species.

Growth habit

Velvet fern is a terrestrial fern with erect, noncreeping scaly rhizomes and erect stalks/stipes, of ten tuf ted, 15-40 cm long. The thin, dark brownish-green fronds are broadly oval, 15-55 cm x 15-45 cm, and are covered on all surfaces in numerous tiny soft reddish-brown hairs, giving the velvet feel. There are three to four pinnae or frond segments, each divided into smaller pinnae. The primary or lower pinnae of the fronds are stalked, and the lowest of the pair of secondary pinnae are particularly elongated downwards, creating the angled appearance of the whole frond. The final segments are blunt-ended.


When mature, clusters of sporangia make up the round sori on the underside of the fronds. These are seen in one row either side of the midrib away from pinna margins. At first they are covered by a kidney-shaped covering/indusium which falls off as the spores ripen and then spread by the wind.

Where to find Lastreopsis velutina?

You can see velvet fern in a few western areas of Wellington - Huntleigh Park, Ōtari-Wilton’s Bush, and some pockets of bush at Makara. Look for it on the Kohekohe Loop Track, Paekākāriki and Barry Hadfield Nīkau Scenic Reserve, Paraparaumu. It also occurs in Akatarawa Forest and the Tararua, Remutaka and Aorangi ranges.

Botany 2019

In The Hills 2019-07 < Index chronological > In The Hills 2019-09

Page last modified on 2019 Sep 25 09:13

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