Plant small, cæspitose, suberect, 4–6-fronded, with a compact mass of large light-brown scales at base; roots many, long, filiform, rich dark-brown and very hairy; fronds thin, submembranaceous, sub-sessile, linear-lanceolate or ligulate, subfalcate, very obtuse at apices, 2–3¼ inches long, 1–1½ lines broad (broadest part about middle), decreasing very gradually quite to base, light-green above, lighter below, villous on both sides with long reddish hairs, margin entire but slightly undulated, ciliated with stout long red hairs; midrib black-purple, flexuose, scarcely continued to apex; veinsalternate, rather distant, simple, and only once forked on the inside, not produced to the edge; sori separate, oblique on inner fork of veins, rather nearer the midrib than the margin, rich red-brown, from close to apex downwards throughout two-thirds length of the frond, at first linear-oblong afterwards elliptic, completely hidden by long villous adpressed whitish hairs growing from each side of the sori and permanent; scales, at base, large, ovate-acuminate, 1–1½ lines long, thin, shining, finely reticulated, chesnut-brown. 
Hab.—Forests between head of Wairarapa Valley and Manawatu River, 1850 (W.C.); also near Takapau, S.W. end of Ruataniwha Plains, Hawke’s Bay, 1881 (Mr. John Stewart); on the ground.
This little fern has been long known to me, though, originally, only from a single plant of some 4–5 fronds, discovered by me in 1850, and though often sought (in subsequent travelling through those woods) never again met with: specimens of its fronds were sent to Sir W.J. Hooker; those, however, were not in so good a state (being only old) as these I have lately received from Mr. Stewart. And, no doubt, at Kew, those have been considered and described as belonging to Polypodium australe. To this, however, I could never consent, for I know P. australe well; two other allied yet much smaller New Zealand ferns, have also been described with it, viz., Grammitis ciliata (mihi),783 which always grows in single plants on trees—and a curious stout dwarf broadly spathulate form, from holes and cavernous places in the rocks on the hills, which always grows in dense masses.
Polypodium australe (or Grammitis australis), vera, with which (as I take it) other allied ferns have been mixed up, is altogether a very different plant, and possesses characters not to be found in P. paradoxum, and vice versa. That fern was originally described by its discoverer, the celebrated botanist R. Brown, who also (as he says) had the great advantage of seeing it in its living state; Brown describes it as “frondibus linearibus v. lanceolato-linearibus obtusiusculis, integris glabris, marginibus simplicibus.”784 And just so its latest describer, Bentham, who describes it more fully and from ample specimens, obtained from various places in Australia and Tasmania, saying—“Fronds entire, coriaceous, glabrous, ... contracted into a short stipes. Veins … once or twice forked, free, and concealed in the thick substance of the frond.”785 Bentham also includes with it a new species of Baker’s—P. diminutum, from Lord Howe’s Island; which also has a “creeping rhizome, surfaces naked, and texture rigidly coriaceous.”786 This new species of Baker’s, I may further observe, is also placed by him as coming next in regular natural succession to P. australe, and, like that species, belonging to what he has classed as the “Eremobryoid series (of the genus), having their stems articulated at the point of junction with the (creeping) rhizome;”787 to which natural series the plant I have above described does not belong. 
Sir W. Hooker, in his “Species Filicum,” gives a full description of P. australe, (in which, however, other allied plants from other countries, described by other botanists, are also by him included,)—in his description, he says,—“at the base and also on the stipites deciduously hairy, the rest at least in maturity glabrous.” Baker also, in his late edition of “Synopsis Filicum,” describes P. australe as having, “Rhizome creeping, texture coriaceous, stipes and both sides naked or slightly ciliated,788 and Dr. Sir Jos. Hooker, both in his “Flora Novæ-Zealandæ,” and his “Handbook of the New Zealand Flora,” describes P. australe as being “glabrous, pubescent, pilose, or ciliate,” etc., etc.—done, as I take it, and as I have already observed, to embrace all our New Zealand allied plants in one specific description; believing them to be but one species; but there are great natural and characteristic differences separating them.
The rather coarse and long villous adpressed hairs on the under side of P. paradoxum, growing across and hiding the sori, and giving it there a kind of coarse matted arachnoid appearance, the persistent stout marginal rufous hairs, and the numerous large and reticulated basal scales,—together with each plant being of strictly defined single cæspitose growth,—are good natural characters not pertaining to P. australe, vera.
Polypodium (? Goniopteris) pennigerum, Forst., var. hamiltonii,789 W.C.
Rhizome erect, tufted: fronds 15–18 inches high, glabrous, oblong-lanceolate, very membraneous, pinnate, slightly pinnatifid at top, light-green; stipes and rhachis slender, subsucculent; rhachis and mid-rib hairy above, hairs light-brown; pinnules opposite, distant, slightly petiolate, broadly linear-elongate, not acuminate, pinnatifid to below the veins very nearly to mid-rib, middle ones 3 inches long, 1 inch broad, lowermost pairs very distant, small and auricled upwards, the upper ones are sometimes forked near tips; lobes large, 5–6 lines long, 3 lines broad, very irregular, puckered and crisped, deeply cut into 4–5 incisions on each side, truncate, retuse, and sharply pointed, the sinus between the lobes large and semicircular; veins, 4–5 pairs to each lobe, opposite, distant, free throughout; sori globose, few, only a single sorus central on each of lowermost pair of veins: stipes 2–2½ inches long, scaly at base; scales ovate, obtuse, rich dark-brown, and finely reticulated.
Hab.—Wet rocky sides of mountain streamlets, country S.W. from Napier, North Island; found by Mr. A. Hamilton in 1881.
This is an elegant species (or new variety) of fern, and will, I have no doubt (if it continues true), become a garden favourite; at present, plants of it are thriving well in Mrs. Tiffen’s fernery in Napier. For some little  time it has been a puzzler, as it was not originally found bearing fruit, and its richly crisped very membraneous form was so widely different from all our New Zealand ferns; yet, from its regular and simple venation, etc., I supposed it to be closely allied to P. pennigerum. This is now proved, from the plants in cultivation having produced fruitful fronds bearing similar sori, whence this description is in part made; but another great and striking difference is the not-meeting of the lower pair of veins (as in that species), the lobes being separated much beyond them; and this character (if constant) would cause the removal of this fern from Goniopteris. There are also other and great differences between these two ferns; still, I cannot bring myself to consider them as really specific—time, however, will show. I have very great pleasure in naming this pretty plant after its zealous discoverer.
Polypodium (Goniopteris) pennigerum, Forst., var. giganteum,790 W.C.
Whole plant, pretty nearly as P. pennigerum, is described in “Handbook Flora of N.Z.” (and in other botanical works), but with these differences:—Fronds, 5–6 feet long, 14–16 inches wide, broad-oblong lanceolate; stipes very stout, woody, semi-circular, deeply channelled on upper surface, and marked on both upper outer edges with a continuous white ridge, scaly below; scales scarious, large, 2–3 lines long, ovate, rich dark-brown, elegantly reticulated; rhachis and midribs of pinnules, hairy (hirsute) above; pinnules 7–8 inches long, 1¼ inch broad, broadest at base, sub-petiolate, acute, alternate, distant, patent, largely and regularly conniving towards apex but not falcate; lobes 7–8 lines long, 2–2¼ lines broad, linear-oblong, slightly falcate, rather distant, toothed, margin recurved, and slightly and sparsely hairy at tips and edges; sinus between the lobes acute; each lobe with 9–10 pairs of veins, lowest two pairs of veins opposite, those above sub-opposite, and all bearing a single sorus, the lowermost two veins meeting the opposite two above them, and so generally throughout the pinnule; the lowermost pair of lobes on each pinnule are the longest, the lowermost lobe is auricled, the auricle bearing 1–2 sori extra on small veinlets.
Hab.—Skirts of woods and thickets, head of River Manawatu; 1875–1881.
This fern seems to be a large var. of P. pennigerum, possessing however several characters differing from that plant, which are noted above. P. pennigerum, the common form, is also plentiful in the same localities. I have long known this plant, but should not care to bring it forward, were it not for the still more striking var. (or species) discovered by Mr. Hamilton (supra).