New Zealand Native Ferns

New Zealand is home to an abundance of ferns, of which around 45 per cent occur nowhere else in the world. Five of these ferns are celebrated in the New Zealand Ferns stamp issue! Read on to find out more.

Issue information

Ferns are an important part of New Zealand’s vegetation, and can be found throughout New Zealand’s picturesque landscapes. The fern is also an important design element in Māori culture, and has become a symbol of New Zealand’s national identity.

The New Zealand Native Ferns stamp issue reflects New Zealand’s remarkable biodiversity, and the five distinctive ferns portrayed are hen and chickens fern, kidney fern, Colenso’s hard fern, umbrella fern and silver fern. Each of the species is beautifully illustrated on a gummed stamp that contains both the common and scientific names of the fern.


70c - Hen and Chicken fern

Hen and chickens fern (Asplenium bulbiferum) is a common forest species found in wet habitats throughout most of New Zealand. It is a fairly large fern that grows on the ground, especially along stream banks. It is easily recognised by the numerous small plantlets (or ‘chickens’) that arise on the upper side of the fern frond.

$1.40 - Kidney fern

Kidney fern (Cardiomanes reniforme) is one of New Zealand’s most distinctive ferns. The kidney-shaped frond, the projecting clusters of reproductive structures around the margin, and the green translucence of the fronds when seen against the sun make this an enticing fern.

$1.90 - Colenso's hard fern

Colenso’s hard fern (Blechnum colensoi) was named in honour of William Colenso, an early missionary and botanist who collected the species near Lake Waikaremoana in 1841. The plant occurs in wet forest, usually hanging from steep banks or streamsides in dark places, often near waterfalls.

$2.40 - Umbrella fern

Umbrella fern (Sticherus cunninghamii) derives its common name from the parasol-shaped frond. The Māori name, tapuwae kōtuku means 'the footprint of the white heron'. Ferns in this family characteristically produce a bud at the top of the frond stalk.

$2.90 - Silver fern

Silver fern (Cyathea dealbata), with its distinctive white underside to the frond, is probably New Zealand’s most widely recognised fern. It has a woody trunk that produces a crown of fronds, and grows to about 10 metres tall in dry forest.

Native Treasures of New Zealand 

Enjoy the New Zealand Native Ferns stamp issue further through the miniature sheet and first day covers. The stamp first day cover features an illustration of an unfurling silver fern frond that symbolises new life, growth, strength and peace. The koru is an integral symbol in Māori art, and is based on the shape of the furled fern. 

Technical information


Date of issue: 7 February 2013
Number of stamps: Five gummed stamps
Stamps, miniature sheet, first day covers and presentation pack designed by: 2Di4 Design, Wellington, New Zealand
Denominations: 70c, $1.40, $1.90, $2.40 and $2.90
Printer and process: Cartor Security Printing, France by offset lithography
Number of colours: Four process colours
Stamp size and format: 40mm x 30mm (horizontal)
Paper type: 102gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper. 
Number of stamps per sheet: 25
Perforation gauge: 13.25 x 13
Period of sale: Unless stocks are exhausted earlier, these stamps will remain on sale until 6 February 2014