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In The Hills In The Hills 2016-06

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This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper Volume 88, no 5, June 2016

June in the hills with Barbara Mitcalfe and Chris Horne

Blechnum novae-zelandiae, kiokio


Kiokio is endemic to New Zealand. You are sure to have seen this common fern, the largest member of the Blechnum genus, and one of our larger ground-dwelling ferns. It grows on the Kermadecs, Three Kings, North, South, Stewart/Rakiura, Chatham/Rekohu, Auckland, Campbell and Antipodes islands. You will see kiokio throughout its widespread range: lowland to subalpine forest, boggy to dry open ground, and even rocky places. It often forms dense colonies in gullies and on track-side banks. It is particularly abundant on road cuttings on the West Coast, where it helps to prevent severe erosion during rain-storms.


Kiokio.jpg: 1600x1069, 440k (2016 Jun 05 22:18)
Kiokio four fronds, three sterile, one fertile
Photo: Jeremy Rolfe

Kiokio has a short-creeping rhizome. The stalk (stipe), 8-70 cm long, is stout, pale brown, and covered with pale-brown scales with dark centres.

The sterile fronds are green on top, paler green underneath, harsh to your touch and from 20-250 x 860 cm. They have 10-50 fine-toothed, segments, crowded in pairs and attached to the stem (rachis), which has scales similar to those on the stalk. You may notice that young kiokio fronds are often tinged with red or pink, thought to be a protection against strong ultra-violet light.

Kiokio's fertile fronds are quite different from its sterile fronds, a characteristic of the Blechnum genus, as you read in the April 2016 article. They are 15-50 cm or more long and 8-20 cm wide. You will see on the top right of the image a fertile frond, with numerous pairs of black, wire-like, fertile segments, and below them, about eight pairs of sterile segments.


Sori, which bear the spores, cover the undersides of the segments. When the sori mature, the spores within them ripen and are spread by the wind, to germinate and produce more kiokio. In the December 2015 article is a description of the several stages of the development of adult ferns.


Kiokio koru/fiddleheads are edible, raw or cooked. Māori used to wrap vegetables, e.g., kumara, in kiokio fronds, to add flavour to the hangi.

See also

Blechnum chambersii Nini Lance fern 2016-10
Blechnum colensoi Peretao Colenso's hard fern 2016-05
Blechnum discolor Piupiu Crown fern 2016-04
Blechnum filiforme Pānako Thread fern; Climbing hard fern 2016-07
Blechnum fluviatile Ray water fern 2016-08
Blechnum novae-zelandiae Kiokio 2016-06
Blechnum penna-marina Little hard fern; alpine hard fern 2016-11
Blechnum vulcanicum Korokio Mountain hard fern 2016-09

Botany 2016

In The Hills 2016-05 < Index chronological > In The Hills 2016-07

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