Doodia aspera

Prickly Rasp Fern

Family: Blechnaceae

A ground-covering fern with fronds emerging from stolons, to about 50 cm tall, forming extensive “carpets” to many metres wide.

It has a large natural geographic range in NSW, growing from the Victorian border on the south coast region, extending commonly northwards and extending west to Kandos, and then extending further west as it moves up into the northern parts of the State (Warrumbungle and Mt Kaputar National Parks), and occurring commonly on the coast and tablelands to Queensland. Here, it extends into the coast and tablelands in a patchy occurrence to Cairns with records as far as Cape Melville National Park. It is found commonly in the east of Victoria with scattered records to Melbourne and south to Warrnambool. 

It can be found in a range of habitats such as dry to wet sclerophyll woodland and forest as well as rainforest and sometimes in moist shrublands near creeks, on a range of soils from sandstone to clay and volcanic. 

Doodia spp. have highly dissected fronds which could be classed as simple / strongly pinnatisect, to compound / pinnate; produced in a radiating cluster from the stolons. In this species, frons are to 50 cm long and to about 12 cm wide; deeply pinnatisect with individual segments or “teeth” to 6 cm long, dark green when mature, with juvenile growth red-bronze; frond surfaces rough and tuberculate and leathery and with the margins of the segments also having narrow-teeth.

Being a fern, no flowers or fruits are produced. Rather, spores are produced in sori on the underside of the fronds. In this species, these are in two rows, on each side of the midveins on the frond-segments, circular, to 1.5 mm across. 

In the garden

This fern can be cultivated and does well in a moist-shady area. It works as an excellent groundcover and weed-suppressor and creates excellent habitat for small reptiles and frogs.  

It is very hardy once established. It may be difficult to establish in some cases but worth trying. 

Best planted on a moist sandy to slightly heavier soil with some enrichment in part-shade and with very good drainage. Avoid hot western sun. 

It can also be used as an indoor plant.


Propagation is from plant division or by spores. Plants can be transplanted with adequate watering when planted. 

Other information

This species readily recovers after fire from the stolons and any spores in the soil. 

This species was recently reclassified as Blechnum neohollandicum – a species complex with a massive natural geographic range. However, the name was then changed back to this species. NSW Herbarium currently recognises it as Doodia aspera.

Doodia is a genus of about 30-40 species, found in Asia, Australia, the Pacific Islands and Hawaii. Research continues as to whether Doodia spp. might be better classified as Blechnum spp. Australia has 8 species, 4 endemic. NSW currently has 6 species. 

Doodia – named for Samuel Doody (1656-1706) – an English Botanist and garden curator who assisted others with botanical research.

aspera – latin meaning “rough” – referring to the very rough-texture of the fronds.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.  

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Doodia aspera profile page        https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Doodia~aspera 

Australian National Herbarium – Doodia aspera profile page          https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/interns-2006/doodia-aspera.html 

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.

By Dan Clarke and Jeff Howes.