T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Christella dentata (Soft fern)

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Pteridopsida
Order: Athyriales
Family: Thelypteridaceae
Genus: Christella
Species: C. dentata
Binomial name: Christella dentata
Synonyms: Cyclosorus nymphalis, Polypodium dentatum, Dryopteris dentata, Thelypteris dentata, Cyclosorus dentatus, Polypodium nymphale.
Common name: Christella, Soft fern, Helecho, Downy Maiden.

Christella dentata is a small, soft, delicate, perennial fern, ranging from 0.25-0.8m high. It is widespread in tropical and subtropical Africa, also in Yemen, Seychelles and Comoro Is., Madagascar, southern Asia, Australia and New Zealand. In New Zealand this fern is known only from Kaitaia north. It is also found on Raoul Island in the Kermadec Islands were it is abundant. Its habit is damp areas on the margins of rainforest and shady streambanks.
The soft pale green fronds can surpass the 70 centimetres in length but are usually shorter. They are covered in soft hairs. The rachis and petiole are almost black or very dark grey colour. The sori are round, up to 20 per lobe; indusia are small, hairy, and up to 1 mm wide.

Photographed at Otari Wilton Bush Reserve, Wellington.

The upper surface of a frond.