Hen & Chickens Fern
New Zealand Status: Endemic
Conservation Status: Not Threatened
Asplenium bulbiferum is found in the wild only in New Zealand. Commonly known as Hen and Chickens Fern, its fronds can be eaten as a vegetable. This fern grows small bulbils on top of its fronds that fall off when they've grown to about 50mm then, provided the soil they land in is kept moist, develop a root system and grow into new ferns. This additional means of reproduction is easier than propagation by spores. The fern also produces spores on the underside of its fronds giving it a double assurance of reproduction which is very unusual for ferns.
Asplenium bulbiferum is often confused with, Asplenium gracillimum, a fern species that has more diamond-shaped fronds, more space between its frond segments, and often few if any bulbils.
© Geografpix Photography, Steve Reader