Royal fern Todea barbara

Many of New Zealand’s threatened ferns are found in warmer climates on landmasses north of New Zealand, with New Zealand representing their southern distribution limits. These species tend to be restricted to northern areas of the country and occupy coastal and geothermal sites. Other species are restricted to habitats such as wetlands, which have suffered drastic modification and loss, or are palatable to stock and feral animals.

Key Features

  • A robust fern forming short trunks upto 1 m tall. nd robust, leathery leaves.
  • Leaves up to 65 cm long, leathery, glossy, pale-green to yellow-green.
  • Fertile pinnae occur on lower part of the leaf at the edges of the leaf.

Distribution and Habitat

  • Restricted to Northland, North Island.
  • Coastal to lowland areas where it occurs in gumland and coastal shrublands and in open forest along stream margins. Sometimes occurs in more open areas such as on coastal cliffs and claybanks.


  • Habitat modification and loss.
  • Natural succession by taller vegetation can shade it out.
  • Competition with exotic plants.

Management Opportunities and Methods

  • Survey for new locations.
  • Protection of habitat.
  • Weed control.

Monitoring Options

  • Check existing populations annually.
  • Report new locations to DOC, NZPCN.

Further Information and Support

  • New Zealand Plant Conservation Network (NZPCN).
  • Weed management - Department of Conservation, Regional Councils.
  • References
    • Brownsey, P.J. & Smith-Dodsworth, J.C. (2000). New Zealand Ferns and Allied Plants. David Bateman, Auckland.
    • Peter de Lange, Peter Heenan, David Norton, Jeremy Rolfe and John Sawyer (2010). Threatened Plants of New Zealand. Canterbury University Press, Christchurch. 472 pp.