In wet to mesic rainforests, near bogs, in mats of moss, on trees or at their bases and in little kīpolipoli (nooks and crannies) from about 980 to 4,200 feet elevation on our high islands lives one of Hawaiʻi's humblest, yet most splendid endemic ferns. Named wahine noho mauna (literally mountain-dwelling woman) by our kūpuna, Adenophorus tamariscinus actually has two varieties: var. montanus, which occurs on Molokai, Maui and Hawaiʻi, and var. tamariscinus found on all the main islands. Move too quickly and you might just miss this stunning little beauty whose fronds are only 3-8 inches long. Their finely divided nature gives them a delicate and pleasing appearance. These ferns are not solitary; they like a little company and usually grow together in clusters. Wahine noho mauna is also a good friend of the ʻōhiʻa (Metrosideros polymorpha), often growing on or at the base of these beautiful trees, one of the keystone species of Hawaiian forests. Because ferns are one of the first things to disappear when the ground is disturbed by pigs and other feral animals, the presence of this species is a sign of a healthy forest. Kou oho hine e kupu haʻa maila - Your splendid frond sprouting humbly.
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