Recognition: medium-sized ground fern, with distinctive translucent fronds. The sporangia (which produce spores) are scattered on the undersides of fronds, rather than being aggregated into distinct patches.
Small single crape ferns are easily confused with filmy ferns (Hymenophyllum), but single crape fern grows much bigger than any terrestrial filmy fern in New Zealand.
Distribution/ecology: only found in New Zealand. In forest throughout.
Relationships: similar to the Prince of Wales feathers fern (Leptopteris superba), which has a darker, three-dimensional, and more diamond-shaped frond. Though they often co-occur, Prince of Wales feathers fern is found in wetter, shadier, and colder habitats than single crape fern.
The world’s seven or so species of Leptopteris are restricted to Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand, and some Pacific Islands. Leptopteris belongs to the Osmundaceae, which has one of the oldest fossil records of fern families. The Osmundaceae is also represented in New Zealand by Todea barbara (also indigenous to Australia and South Africa) and the weedy royal fern (Osmunda regalis).