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NZ Plants

Histiopteris incisa - mata, water fern

Family: Dennstaedtiaceae

Histiopteris incisa is a tall bracken-like fern with a long-ceeping horizontal stem (rhizome). The young fronds are hairless and have distinctive bluish-green colour, turning to red-brown with age. The lowermost pair of secondary leaflets commonly overlap the main frond axis (rachis). Sori are in a continuous band protected by an inrolled leaflet margin.
Found throughout New Zealand in clearings and roadsides.

Vegetative characteristics

Fertile frond and sporangia

Plant form: creeping rhizome with fronds up to 2 m in length

Frond appearance: similar to sterile fronds

Frond stalk, midrib: lacking hairs, scales

Sporangium location: lower frond surface

Frond shape:  oval

Sporangium position: leaflet margin

Frond blade: 3-pinnate (divided 3 x into leaflets or pinnae)

Sporangia distribution: in groups (sori)

Frond surface: lacking hairs, scales

Sorus shape: linear (continuous)

Leaflets: rounded at tip with broad base, veins usually joined (netted)  

Sorus covering: reflexed marginal flap