Microsorum scandens


Microsorum: Variant of microsorium, meaning small sori (spores on the underside of fern fronds)
scandens: climbing; from the Latin scandere; groth habit

Common Name(s)

fragrant fern, mokimoki

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Microsorum scandens (G. Forst.) Tindale



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class



Phymatosorus scandens (G. Forst.) C. Presl; Phymatosorus scandens (G. Forst.) Pic. Serm.; Polypodium pustulatum sensu A.Cunn.; Microsorium pustulatum sensu Dobbie; Phymatodes pustulata sensu Hook.f.; Phymatosorus scandens (G.Forst.) Pic.Serm.; Drynaria scandens (G.Forst.) Fée


Indigenous. New Zealand: North, South and Chatham Islands - widespread from North Cape to Franz Josef (Westland). Also Australia (Eastern Australia (Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria), also Lord Howe Island.


Coastal to lowland, in forest. Microsorum scandens is a common creeping fern covering rock piles, tree and tree fern trunks and bare ground. Unlike M. pustulatum, M. scandens is much less drought tolerant and so prefers less open, shaded and damper situations.


Epiphytic or rupestral scrambling or climbing fern. Rhizomes long-creeping, 2-4 mm diameter, rather slender, flexuose (wiry), densely invested in persistent scales. Scales 2.0-8.0 × 1.0-2.2 mm, dark brown to purple-brown, ovate to narrowly ovate, squarrose, acuminate, minutely dentate near base. Fronds 75-580 × 10-30 mm (simple fronds 45-39 × 6-31 mm), dull green. Stipes 6-160 mm long, slender, pale, glossy, sparsely scaly. Lamina membranous, deeply pinnatifid or simple, strongly, pleasantly scented when fresh or recently dried. Pinnae in 1-20 pairs, 8-100 × 2.5-18 mm, falcate, strongly ascending, tapering toward apices, base adnate, tapering into stipe; margins often undulose; veins reticulate, usually forming only 1 series of areoles between costa (midrib in simple fronds) and lobe margin, glabrous part from a few scattered scales on midrib and costae. Sori in 1 row close to margin on each side of costa of laminal lobe or midrib in simple fronds, rounded or sometimes elongated or oval, impressed into abaxial lamina, forming low protuberances on the adaxial lamina surface. Spores orange-brown.

Similar Taxa

Easily distinguished from the two other New Zealand Microsorum by thin rhizome covered in erect dark brown to purple-brown scales, membranous, dull green, pleasantly scented fronds, and by the narrower and more numerous pinnae.


Not applicable - spore producing

Flower Colours

No Flowers


Not applicable - spore producing

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from rooted pieces of rhizome. Excellent in a hanging basket, large pot, or trained to grow over rocks, and logs but requires a shaded site and needs frequent watering. Once established it rarely requires much attention and has the advantage of being mostly disease and pest free.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 74

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family



The scented fronds of Microsorum scandens which are known as mokimoki were much used by Maori to mask unpleasant odours.




Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (13 January 2012). Description adapted from Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth (2000) and Bostock & Spokes (1998).

References and further reading

Bostock, P.D.; Spokes, T.M. 1998: Polypodiaceae. Pp. 468-495. Flora of Australia 48. Australian Biological Resources Study, CSIRO Canberra

Brownsey, P.J.; Smith-Dodsworth, J.C. 2000: New Zealand Ferns and Allied Plants. Auckland, David Bateman

This page last updated on 4 Dec 2014