Blechnum egregium

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Blechnum egregium


Asia-Tropical: Borneo present (Sabah present), Mt Kinabalu present, Papua New Guinea present, Solomon Islands present
Malesia: Borneo (Sabah: Mt Kinabalu), widely distributed through the Philippine Islands and Papua New Guinea. The only specimen seen from the Solomon Islands is at NSW. Unfortunately it lacks details but was collected by J. Duff at ‘San Cristoval’, presumably the most south-eastern island of the group. The collector is presumably John Duff, a member of staff of the Sydney Botanic Gardens until 1884.


state that “the tender portions of the young fronds are reportedly edible”.


1. The name egregium comes from the Latin egregius meaning excellent; certainly this is one of the most elegant ferns of the genus Blechnum.
2. A number of collectors of B. egregium have commented on the brilliant scarlet colour of the young fronds and the dark green upper and paler lower surfaces of the mature fronds. The fertile fronds are apparently seasonal in their development and usually occur in the centre of the crown of fronds.
3. There appears to be considerable variation in the way in which pinnae towards the base of the lamina are reduced. Usually there is a gradual reduction in length so that the lowermost few pairs are reduced to lobes. Occasional plants have fronds with the lamina more truncately reduced, with the lowermost pinnae smaller but not reduced to lobes; in a number of collections such plants have been named by Copeland in his handwriting as ‘Blechnum insigne’, apparently an unpublished name, and conspecific with B. egregium.
4. Another variable feature is the width of the paler borders of the otherwise shiny black scales at the base of the stipes, sometimes so fine that the paler border is only visible by means of a hand lens. Occasional specimens have been examined in which the scales lack a border and range from evenly dark brown to shiny black.
5. Juvenile plants of B. egregium have more rounded pinnae and lack the conspicuous dark scales at the base of the stipe. In the advanced juvenile stages the plants of this species could be mistaken for B. chambersii Tindale from Australia and New Zealand. Blechnum egregium has also been confused with B. cartilagineum Sw., an Australian species which also possesses very dark to black shiny scales at the base of the stipe and on the rhizome.
6. Blechnum egregium, with its sterile pinnae reducing to small lobes which are either adnate throughout or semi-adnate at the base of the lamina, is easily separated from B. vittatum, which may be a closely related species. The basal pinnae of B. vittatum are usually sessile or shortly petiolate. Both species have distinctive finely toothed margins. Blechnum egregium appears to be related to B. brasiliense Desv. from South America and to B. gibbum (Labill.) Mett. from New Caledonia and some islands of Vanuatu.
7. There is considerable confusion surrounding the name B. nitidum. Presl Reliq. Haenk. 1 (1825) 49; Epimel. Bot. (1851) 116 (B. nitida), and Hooker (1860: 44), used the specific name nitidum, commenting that Presl had at first confused it with B. brasiliense Desv. Hooker continued: “He detected his error however, for the upper part of the frond in our plant resembles B. brasiliense, it differs most widely in not having the lower pinnae contracted or dwarfed and he [Presl] introduced it as a distinct species in his Epimeliae Botanicae and referred to it as the Blechnum n. 164 of Mr Cuming from Luzon”. However, we are convinced that the plant illustrated in Wilson’s drawing in Hook., Sp. Fil. 3: t. 155 is almost certainly B. cartilagineum from Australia. Hooker’s t. 156 B. nitidum var. contracta illustrates a plant of B. egregium although the base of the fronds does not always exhibit this arrangement. The name B. nitidum must be regarded as a nomen confusum. The misinterpretation of these specimens also accounts for the erroneous claims that B. cartilagineum which is endemic to Australia occurs in the Philippines and Borneo.


T.C.Chambers & P.A.Farrant 2001 – In: Blumea. p 296