Blechnum fraseri

The common names for this species include the ‘Miniature tree fern’ and ‘Hard Fern’. The Maori name for Blechnum fraseri is ‘Maukurangi’. Blechnum fraseri was named after Scottish botanist Charles Fraser who moved to Australia 1816 and was part of several expeditions around Australia and New Zealand.

Blechnum fraseri can be found growing in New Zealand’s North and South Islands as well as in New Guinea, Indonesia and the Philippine’s. In New Zealand the species is very common in the Kaimais and in other lowland forest areas in the upper North Is, and coastal areas of NW Nelson and the northern part of the West Coast. The species grows in drier, open places often found around the edge of established forests. Blechnum fraseri like many Blechnum species spreads by underground rhizomes to form colonies. The species is quick to establish in areas that have been recently logged.

The so called ‘Miniature tree fern’ has a unique appearance, different from other Blechnum species. This may well lead to it being put into a different family of ferns. The species has a short woody trunk similar to Blechnum gibbun, but the fronds are bipinnate or divided twice. This makes the fronds look more like a Cyathea cooperi than a typical singly divided Blechnum frond. I would consider this species to be dimorphic, the sterile and fertile fronds are similar but the fertile fronds tend to be thinner pinnae.

This species tends to be quite difficult to propagate and plants are few and far between in cultivation outside of New Zealand. I would therefore only be able to guess at its hardiness but would think it is similar to Cyathea medullaris at around 0°C (32°F).