Tmesipteris obliqua

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Long fork fern
Tmesipteris obliqua on Dicksonia.jpg
T. obliqua growing on a Dicksonia antarctica
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Division: Polypodiophyta
Class: Polypodiopsida
Order: Psilotales
Family: Psilotaceae
Genus: Tmesipteris
T. obliqua
Binomial name
Tmesipteris obliqua

Tmesipteris obliqua, more commonly known as the long fork-fern or common fork-fern, is a weeping, epiphytic fern ally with narrow unbranched leafy stems. [1] T. obliqua is a member of the genus Tmesipteris , commonly known as hanging fork-ferns. Tmesipteris is one of two genera in the order Psilotales, the other genus being Psilotum . [2] T. obliqua is endemic to eastern Australia. [3]


Anatomy and biology

T. obliqua is a weeping, epiphytic fern ally that grows on trunks of tree ferns, such as Dicksonia antarctica and some rocky surfaces. [1] Fronds of T. obliqua are unbranched and grow to 20-65cm in length. [4] T. obliqua has a thick fleshy rhizome [5] but no true roots. [1] This rhizome is brittle and resents disturbance. [5] The stems are usually without branches and smooth at the base, except for a single groove on the upper surface of the lower section of stem. [4]

Leaves are oblong in shape, sometimes broad as well, and are roughly 20-30mm in length, 4-8mm wide. [3] Leaves are not crowded (c. 3 per cm), are asymmetrical at the base and apex truncate with a fine excurrent point. [4] Leaves reduce in size towards apex of stem (younger parts of the plant are smaller). [3]

T. obliqua are non-flowering and spore forming. Sporangia are borne in pointed 2-chambered capsules at the base of specialise forked bracts, which are narrower and shorter than sterile leaves. [1] [5]

It has been discovered that Tmesipteris obliqua has the largest known fern genome (1C = 150.61 pg). Its genome size was estimated by flow cytometry in comparison with the genome of Paris japonica (Melanthiaceae; 1C = 152.23 pg), the largest genome so far reported for any eukaryote. This discovery has shown a double in genome size compared to genome size values previously encountered in ferns. [6]

Distribution and Habitat

Tmesipteris obliqua is an epiphyte commonly found growing on the trunks of tree-ferns, especially the soft tree-fern, Dicksonia antarctica [1] and occasionally shady, moist rock-faces. [4]

Tmesipteris obliqua Long Fork Fern Mount Dromedary southern New South Wales.JPG

This species is widespread and common from sea level up to 600m in communities of fern gullies, rainforests and wet sclerophyll forests. [5] T. obliqua thrives in moist, shady, humid and rocky environments and soil tolerances include mossy logs, rock or soil amongst exposed roots. [5]

T. obliqua is most commonly found distributed along eastern Australia. [2] [3] [5]


Due to its epiphytic nature, T. obliqua grows best in areas of high rainfall, large amounts of shade and some humidity in communities with rocky surfaces. These very specific growth requirements, plus the delicacy of the species, makes it extremely difficult for cultivation. [1]

Related Research Articles

Tree fern Ferns that grow with a trunk elevating the fronds above ground level

The tree ferns are the ferns that grow with a trunk elevating the fronds above ground level, making them trees. Most tree ferns are members of the "core tree ferns", belonging to the families Dicksoniaceae, Metaxyaceae, and Cibotiaceae in the order Cyatheales. This order is the third group of ferns known to have given rise to tree-like forms. Others tree ferns include the extinct psaroniaceae, which are members of Marattiales, some members of Osmundaceae and the extinct Guaireaceae within the Osmundales, and the extinct Tempskya of uncertain position.

<i>Psilotum</i> Genus of ferns in the family Psilotaceae

Psilotum is a genus of fern-like vascular plants. It is one of two genera in the family Psilotaceae commonly known as whisk ferns, the other being Tmesipteris. Plants in these two genera were once thought to be descended from the earliest surviving vascular plants, but more recent phylogenies place them as basal ferns, as a sister group to Ophioglossales. They lack true roots and leaves are very reduced, the stems being the organs containing photosynthetic and conducting tissue. There are only two species in Psilotum and a hybrid between the two. They differ from those in Tmesipteris in having stems with many branches and a synangium with three lobes rather than two.

Cyatheales Order of ferns

The order Cyatheales, which includes the tree ferns, is a taxonomic division of the fern class, Polypodiopsida. No clear morphological features characterize all of the Cyatheales, but DNA sequence data indicate the order is monophyletic. Some species in the Cyatheales have tree-like growth forms from a vertical rhizome, others have shorter or horizontal expanding rhizomes.

Stolon Horizontal connections between organisms

In biology, stolons, also known as runners, are horizontal connections between organisms. They may be part of the organism, or of its skeleton; typically, animal stolons are external skeletons.

<i>Equisetum sylvaticum</i> Species of vascular plant in the horsetail family Equisetaceae

Equisetum sylvaticum, the wood horsetail, is a horsetail native to the Northern Hemisphere, occurring in North America and Eurasia. Because of its lacy appearance, it is considered among the most attractive of the horsetails.

<i>Dicksonia antarctica</i> Species of fern

Dicksonia antarctica, the soft tree fern or man fern, is a species of evergreen tree fern native to eastern Australia, ranging from south-east Queensland, coastal New South Wales and Victoria to Tasmania.

<i>Psilotum complanatum</i> Species of fern in the family Psilotaceae

Psilotum complanatum, the flatfork fern, is a rare herbaceous epiphytic fern ally in the genus Psilotum. There is some evidence that it might be a true fern that has lost some typically fern-like characteristics. Morphologically, the plant is simple, lacking leaves and roots, and having hanging stems with dichotomous branching, which lack developed leaves but have minute scales. The stems and branches have protostele, with a triangular-shaped core of xylem. The scales are arranged in two rows along the flat stems and branches. The stems are broadly triangular in cross section and 5 mm wide. The branches are 1.5 to 2 mm wide. P. complanatum grows 10 to 75 cm long and stems branch in pairs a number of times up their length and are covered with brownish colored hair-like rhizoids. Small stalks end with simple sporangia from the axils of minute bifid, rounded sporophylls. Bean shaped, monolete spores are produced. The spores germinate best in a dark environment when ammonium is present. The gametophyte is non-photosynthetic, living in association with a fungus for its nutritional needs. Plants grow from a subterranean rhizome which anchors the plant in place and absorbs nutrients by means of filament like rhizoids.

<i>Tmesipteris</i> Genus of ferns in the family Psilotaceae

Tmesipteris, the hanging fork ferns, is a genus of ferns, one of two genera in the family Psilotaceae, order Psilotales . Tmesipteris is restricted to certain lands in the Southern Pacific, notably Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia. In New Zealand this hanging epiphyte is common in the warm temperate rain forests of both main islands, where it can normally be found as short spiky dark-green fronds, often with lighter bag-like sporangia at the bases of some of its "leaves". The plant possesses no true leaves; what appear to be leaves are flattened stems. The fronds emerge directly from the fibrous root-mats which clad the trunks of mature tree ferns such as Dicksonia and Cyathea. Tmesipteris is from the Greek language, meaning a "cut fern", referring to the truncated leaf tips.

Plant stem Structural axis of a vascular plant

A stem is one of two main structural axes of a vascular plant, the other being the root. It supports leaves, flowers and fruits, transports water and dissolved substances between the roots and the shoots in the xylem and phloem, stores nutrients, and produces new living tissue.

<i>Pyrrosia rupestris</i> Species of fern

Pyrrosia rupestris known as the rock felt fern is a common fern of eastern Australia. Occurring as an epiphyte or lithophyte in areas of part shade and high moisture. Usually found in rainforest or moist eucalyptus forest. Often seen on rainforest trees, quite high above the ground. However, it grows as far west at the more arid Warrumbungle National Park. In drought it shrinks and becomes desiccated. With rain or mist the fern recovers well.

<i>Hymenophyllum cupressiforme</i> Species of fern

Hymenophyllum cupressiforme is a southern hemisphere species of filmy fern. Found in moist sheltered areas, in or near rainforests. Occasionally found in drier protected areas. Leaves one cell thick. A small epiphytic fern found on tree trunks, rocks and fallen logs.

<i>Hymenophyllum australe</i> Species of fern

Hymenophyllum australe, commonly known as austral filmy fern, is a relatively large rupestral and epiphytic fern, indigenous to eastern Australia and New Zealand. It belongs to the unique Hymenophyllum genus, which are characterised by their thin membranous fronds that are seldom more than one cell thick, with the exception of regions over and around veins. Hymenophyllum australe is distinctive in that the fronds are typically thicker than other Hymenophyllum species, often being up to 2-3 cells thick.

<i>Pittosporum bicolor</i> Species of shrub

Pittosporum bicolor, commonly known as cheesewood or banyalla, is a flowering shrub or small tree of the family Pittosporaceae, and is native to south eastern Australia.

<i>Tmesipteris truncata</i> Species of fern in the family Psilotaceae

Tmesipteris truncata is a fern ally endemic to eastern Australia. The habitat of this primitive plant is under waterfalls, or in sandstone gullies or rainforests. Commonly referred to as a Fork Fern. It is often found growing on the base of the King Fern. Usually seen as an epiphyte or lithophyte, but it may also appear as a terrestrial plant. Found as far south as Mount Dromedary.

Tasmania is home to 'Australia’s largest cool temperate rainforests... Most of Tasmania’s rainforests occur in the North-West and throughout the North East highlands. Cool temperate rainforests typically have a heavy rainfall, cool climate, favor high altitudes and have a limited availability of light.

<i>Microsorum punctatum</i> Species of fern

Microsorum punctatum is a fern from the subfamily Microsoroideae commonly called the fishtail fern. It has been used in traditional medicine.

<i>Polyphlebium venosum</i> Species of fern

Polyphlebium venosum, the veined bristle-fern or bristle filmy fern, is a fern in the family Hymenophyllaceae. It is only found in wet forests, mainly growing as an epiphyte on the shady side of the soft tree fern, Dicksonia antartica. It also grows on logs, trunks of trees and rarely on trunks of Cyathea species or on wet rock-faces. It is found in the wetter parts of Eastern Australia and New Zealand. P. venosum has poor long-distance dispersal compared to other ferns due to its short lived spore. Notable features of Polyphlebium venosum include it being one cell layer thick, 5–15 cm in length, having many branching veins and a trumpet shaped indusium.

Tmesipteris horomaka, commonly known as the Banks Peninsula fork fern, is a fern ally endemic to New Zealand.

<i>Hymenophyllum rarum</i> Species of plant

Hymenophyllum rarum, the narrow filmy-fern, is a species of fern from the family Hymenophyllaceae. This thin-leaved fern is commonly found in New Zealand and Tasmania, growing in patches on rocks and is epiphytic on trees and tree ferns, growing in moist gullies or rainforests. A rather drought tolerant species often found at exposed sites ranging from coastal to montane areas. Forming extensive, interwoven and creeping patches with its thin long (creeping) rhizomes sparsely covered in red-brown hairs, easily recognised by its membranous grey-green fronds, the smooth margins of the pinnae, ultimate segments and indusia; and by the sunken sori in the uppermost segments of the uppermost pinnae. The species can be found throughout Tasmanian rainforests as well as occurring in New South Wales, Victoria and New Zealand on the North and South Islands as well as, Stewart, Chatham and Auckland Islands.

Merrilliobryum tanianum is a species of moss in the family Myriniaceae. It is endemic to the Huon Peninsula of New Guinea.


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  2. 1 2 Robinson, Les. (2003). Field guide to the native plants of Sydney (Rev. 3rd ed.). East Roseville, NSW: Kangaroo Press. ISBN   0-7318-1211-5. OCLC   56844322.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "PlantNET - FloraOnline". Retrieved 2019-12-02.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Flora of Victoria". Retrieved 2019-12-02.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Communities". Retrieved 2019-12-02.
  6. Hidalgo, Oriane; Pellicer, Jaume; Christenhusz, Maarten J. M.; Schneider, Harald; Leitch, Ilia J. (2017-04-01). "Genomic gigantism in the whisk-fern family (Psilotaceae): Tmesipteris obliqua challenges record holder Paris japonica". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 183 (4): 509–514. doi: 10.1093/botlinnean/box003 . ISSN   0024-4074.