Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Critically Endangered
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Listing Advice on Pneumatopteris truncata (fern) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2004g) [Listing Advice].
Approved Conservation Advice for Pneumatopteris truncata (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2014bc) [Conservation Advice].
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, included on the Commenced List (1/11/2009).
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Information Sheets Final Report of the Christmas Island Expert Working Group to the Minister for the Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2010a) [Information Sheet].
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Inclusion of species in the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (22/06/2004) (Christmas Island fern, Preminghana Billybutton and Reflexed Everlasting) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2004c) [Legislative Instrument].
Scientific name Pneumatopteris truncata [68812]
Family Thelypteridaceae:Aspidiales:Polypodiatae:Polypodiophyta:Plantae
Species author (Poir.) Holttum
Infraspecies author  
Reference Blumea 21(2): 314 (1973).
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Pneumatopteris truncata

Pneumatopteris truncata is a large terrestrial fern with an erect rhizome and fronds growing in a crown to 120 cm long. The fronds have aerophores (respiratory structures) at the base of the pinnae (Du Puy 1993ag).

Within Australia Pneumatopteris truncata grows only on Christmas Island. The fern grows as two subpopulations. One subpopulation occurs at the western end of the Island at Hugh's Dale, the other at Blowholes Ravine in the central area of the Island. This species was first found in the region of Waterfall, but was not found there during more recent surveys (Holmes & Holmes 2002).

Pneumatopteris truncata has an extent of occurrence of 0.4 km², and an area of occupancy of 34 m². The sub-population at Hugh's Dale occupies 22 m² and the Blowholes Ravine sub-population occupies 12 m² (TSSC 2004g). A decline in distribution is indicated by the disappearance of the subpopulation from the region of Waterfall, but the overall rate and extent of distribution decline is not known (TSSC 2004g).

The species' distribution can be considered to be severely fragmented within Australia as individuals of this species are found only in two small and relatively isolated subpopulations.

Pneumatopteris truncata is found in Ceylon, southern India and north-eastern India to southern China, through Indo-China and western Malesia (also known as Sundaland), to the Philippines (Du Puy 1993ag; Holttum 1973, 1981), the Lesser Sunda Islands (Du Puy 1993ag; Holttum 1981) and the Mariana Islands (Du Puy 1993ag).

Holmes and Holmes conducted a survey of the flora of Christmas Island in 2002 (Holmes & Holmes 2002) and surveys of the Island's flora were also conducted throughout the 1980s and in 2003 (TSSC 2004g).

In 2003 the total population in Australia consisted of 45 mature individuals. There are 30 plants in the subpopulation at Hugh's Dale and 15 plants in the subpopulation at Blowholes Ravine (TSSC 2004g). There is insufficient data to quantify the population trend for this species.

Both subpopulations of Pneumatopteris truncata occur within Christmas Island National Park.

Pneumatopteris truncata grows colonially on permanently moist sites, in marginal rainforest and in shaded areas, between 50 and 140 metres above sea-level (Holmes & Holmes 2002; TSSC 2004g).

The young fronds of this species are coated in mucilage, which is believed to give the developing fronds protection from dessication. The aerophores protrude through the mucilage to allow respiration (Du Puy 2003ag).

The only identified threats to Pneumatopteris truncata are cyclones and severe tropical storms. These severe weather events can cause direct damage to the plants as well as indirect damage through impacts on the preferred habitat of P. truncata. Heavy rainfall, for instance, can lead to soil erosion which in turn can make an area unsuitable for the plants. Similarly, high winds can damage the forest canopy which in turn can lead to greater exposure of the forest floor to sunlight. Greater light penetration into the forest floor may render the area unsuitable for P. truncata, which prefers moist, shady areas (TSSC 2004g). Christmas Island experiences cyclones at a rate of one every two to three years on average (BoM 2006).

Holmes and Holmes (2002) also record this species as being threatened by crab predation. Red crabs (Gecarcoidea natalis) forage on seeds and seedlings, and have a major effect on the species composition of rainforests on Christmas Island (Green et al. 1997).

Pneumatopteris truncata is potentially at risk from tourist related activities and illegal collecting (TSSC 2004g).

The Christmas Island National Park is managed to preserve the natural condition of the area. Visitor use is managed so as not to have a negative impact on the Park's natural values (Environment Australia 2002i).

The Christmas Island National Park Management Plan (Environment Australia 2002i) contains information and guidelines that are relevant to Pneumatopteris truncata, although this species is not mentioned specifically in the plan.

There is a draft national recovery plan in preparation for Pneumatopteris truncata .

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Commonwealth Listing Advice on Pneumatopteris truncata (fern) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2004g) [Listing Advice].

Bureau of Meterology (BoM) (2006). Tropical Cyclones Affecting the Cocos Islands and Christmas Island. [Online]. Available from:

Du Puy, D.J. (1993ag). Thelypteridaceae. In: Flora of Australia: Oceanic Islands. 50:551-553. Canberra: AGPS.

Environment Australia (2002i). Christmas Island National Park Management Plan. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia.

Green P.T., P.J. O'Dowd & P.S. Lake (1997). Control of seedling recruitment by land crabs in rainforest on a remote Oceanic island. Ecology. 78 (8):2474 -2486.

Holmes, J. & G. Holmes (2002). Conservation Status of the Flora of Christmas Island, Indian Ocean.

Holttum, R.E. (1973). Studies in the Family Thelypteridaceae V. The genus Pneumatopteris Nakai. Blumea. 21(2):293-325. Leiden, The Netherlands: The Rijksherbarium.

Holttum, R.E. (1981). Thelypteridaceae. In: Flora Malesiana, series II. 1(5):331-560. Martinus Nijhoff/ Dr W. Junk Publishers, The Hague.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2004g). Commonwealth Listing Advice on Pneumatopteris truncata (fern). [Online]. Available from:

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Pneumatopteris truncata in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Sun, 21 Sep 2014 22:31:37 +1000.