Project Background

Trichomanes speciosum (Killarney fern) is considered one of Ireland’s rare and threatened plant species. It is protected by both local (Flora Protection Order 1999) and European legislation (Habitats Directive Annex 1). Dr. Whitley Stokes made the first record of Killarney Fern at Powerscourt Waterfall around the 1800’s (Colgan & Scully 1898), this population is now considered extinct. The gametophyte generation was discovered growing in Ireland as recently as the 1990’s. A total of 66 sites with this species remain in Ireland (NPWS 2008).

Project Aims

  • Set up suitable permanent monitoring for Killarney Fern populations in Ireland to ensure that both the habitat and environment in the remaining Irish sites is recorded and to maintain there suitability into the future for the continued existence of killarney fern in Ireland.
  • To investigate the developmental stages of Killarney Fern and to elucidate reasons for there continued existence in mostly small-scattered populations. Germination trials of fertile populations will be carried at Kinsealy research station in conjunction with Dr. Gerry Douglas.
  • To make a full genetic appraisal of the Irish population of Killarney Fern to help inform conservation management of this species in Ireland.

Project Staff at NBG

Dr. Noeleen Smyth (Supervisor and project manager), Ms. Emer Ni Dhuill (PhD. research student)

Project Partners

National Parks and Wildlife Service (Funding body), Botany Department, Trinity College Dublin (Dr. Steve Waldren, Supervisor) and Teagasc Kinsealy Research Station (Dr. Gerry Douglas).