Ferns and Fern Allies in the Canberra Region
Histiopteris incisa - Bat's wing fern
Histiopteris incisa is a widespread fern along the eastern coast of Australia. In the Canberra region it grows in the darkest, most sheltered gullies. In the 1970s, there was a small clump growing in a quarry on Mt. Ainslie, right in the heart of Canberra. With major changes to the over canopy, possibly the result of bushfires, the fern has disappeared from there, but its presence showed it is quite hardy if protected from frost and provided with plenty of ground moisture. The photographs on this page were taken in Far North Queensland, where the fern grows perhaps two metres tall (over 6'). In the Canberra area it is less than half that.
The pinnae are a pale greyish green (glaucous) and, as in the adjacent photograph, the pinnules close to the rhachis (stalk) show the characteristic "bat" appearance that gives the fern its name. It is a most attractive fern, but as it spreads like bracken, it can exclude other plants if it likes the environment.