A New Fern, Lastreopsis Kermadecensis

The newly described Lastreopsis kermadecensis, from Raoul Island in the Kermadecs. Photo by and courtesy of Peter de Lange.

Te Papa Research Fellow Patrick Brownsey and I (Leon Perrie) have just described a new species of fern, Lastreopsis kermadecensis. It only occurs on Raoul Island, which is the largest island in the Kermadec Islands group. Hence, the second part of the new species name!

The Kermadec Islands are the most northern part of the New Zealand Botanical Region. Raoul Island is about 980 km north-east of the North Island. Much of the indigenous flora is similar to mainland New Zealand. But there are a number of plants that occur on the Kermadec Islands and elsewhere in the tropical south Pacific but not in mainland New Zealand. There are also about 25 vascular plant species that are only found on the Kermadec Islands, like this new fern.

Wikipedia’s entry on the Kermadec Islands.

Some of the specimens from the Kermadec Islands amongst Te Papa’s collections.

While the official description of Lastreopsis kermadecensis is only recent, it has actually been suspected for nearly 50 years that the Lastreopsis on Raoul Island was a distinct species.  But it wasn’t until now that someone (us) did the work to test whether this was indeed the case.  This involved comparing specimens from Raoul Island, New Zealand, Australia, and elsewhere in the Pacific.  The work was completely collections-based; neither Pat nor I have been to the Kermadec Islands! Instead, we used specimens from the collections of Te Papa, Auckland Museum, Landcare Research, the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, the Queensland Herbarium, and Hawaii’s Bishop Museum. 

Abstract of the paper describing Lastreopsis kermadecensis.

Lastreopsis kermadecensis looks similar to New Zealand’s smooth shield fern, Lastreopsis glabella. Lastreopsis glabella is a common forest fern.  You will have undoubtedly seen it if you’ve spent any time in New Zealand’s forests, even if you didn’t recognise it.  One of the differences between Lastreopsis kermadecensis and Lastreopsis glabella is that the latter has an abundance of small, orange glands on the undersides of its fronds.  Lastreopsis kermadecensis is actually most similar to Lastreopsis smithianafrom eastern Australia, but there are several differences which we felt were sufficient to treat them as distinct species.

Pictures of New Zealand Lastreopsis from Te Papa’s Collections Online.

The formal description of Lastreopsis kermadecensis means we now recognise 196 ferns and lycophytes indigenous to New Zealand.  We are aware of several additional undescribed or unrecognised species, so a few more years of work will see the list top 200.

Te Papa’s list of New Zealand ferns and lycophytes.

Incidentally, Lastreopsis kermadecensis is one of the first New Zealand plants to be described under the changed rules that allow electronic publication of new scientific names.

Abstract of the article setting out the changes that allow electronic publication of new scientific names for plants, algae, and fungi.

Article from Te Papa's blog.

Spotlight on Mental Health

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.

Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

  • Maps, trends, and customizable charts
  • 50-state rankings
  • Analysis of what it all means
  • Shareable graphics and downloadable data
  • Proven fiscal policy strategies

Explore

Welcome to the new Fiscal 50

Key changes include:

  • State pages that help you keep track of trends in your home state and provide national and regional context.
  • Interactive indicator pages with highly customizable and shareable data visualizations.
  • A Budget Threads feature that offers Pew’s read on the latest state fiscal news.

Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.