January saw an Osmunda regalis or Royal fern hunt at Lake Mokeno. DOC staff under thankfully cloudy skies wading through head high rush and sedge to find this invasive wetland weed. One dense patch of the weed was located and several solo outlier plants pulled out. Follow-up control is planned.
Royal fern is native to Europe, East Asia, India, Africa and America and a great menace of wetlands in the Waikato. It is also an eradication plant for DOC and strongly discouraged in Northland gardens.
A point of interest – this weedy exotic is of the same plant family, Osmundaceae, as a nationally threatened NZ native fern Todea Barbara. Sometimes called royal fern, hard todea, or one of the king ferns, Todea Barbara is an extremely rare streamside plant known from further north in Waipoua forest, Maungataniwha district and Poor Knights. Todea barbara has toothed and pointed secondary pinnae. The weedy one, Osmunda regalis has narrowly-oblong pinnae with a rounded tip – if you spot either in the wild be sure to get in touch with DOC with location information.