Dennstaedtiaceae is a medium-sized family widespread in tropical and temperate regions. It is represented in New Zealand by five indigenous genera (Histiopteris, Hypolepis, Leptolepia, Paesia and Pteridium) and two that are naturalised (Dennstaedtia and Microlepia). Most of the species are opportunist plants of open, disturbed areas. Histiopteris, Paesia and Pteridium are each represented by a single widespread non-endemic species, whilst Dennstaedtia and Microlepia are each known from one casual species. Leptolepia is currently regarded as a monotypic genus endemic to New Zealand, but it nests in one of the clades of the polyphyletic Dennstaedtia which requires further investigation; the sole species is distinctive in being confined to shaded forest habitats. Only Hypolepis with seven species, four of them endemic, shows significant diversity, varying both morphologically and cytologically. Hypolepis ambigua and H. rufobarbata are both widespread species whilst H. distans is widespread in the North Island but largely confined to the west coast of the South Island. Hypolepis dicksonioides and H. lactea are both more common in the northern half of the country, whereas H. millefolium is a montane to subalpine species more widespread in the south. Hypolepis amaurorhachis is a rare species confined to the far south of the South Island and subantarctic islands.
All members of the family in New Zealand are terrestrial ferns with long-creeping rhizomes. They generally have highly divided laminae and are characterised by bearing multicellular, glandular and non-glandular hairs. Histiopteris is exceptional in being glabrous except for a few scales on the rhizomes and stipes. All species have marginal or submarginal sori that are either more or less round, or elongated along the lamina margins, and indusia that are either attached at the base opening towards the margin, more or less cup-shaped, or are formed from the inrolled lamina margin.
|Data last updated||June 28, 2018|
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