Cyathea dealbata Silver fern

Epithet means "with a white powdery covering" Evergreen, 30 ft. (9 m). Zones 9 and 10.

description: The trunk, with protruding persistent stipe bases, can be up to 8 in. (20 cm) in diameter and grows slowly to 30 ft. (9 m). Bipinnate-pinnatifid lanceolate fronds extend to 12 ft. (3.6 m).They are pale green on the upper surface and coated with showy silver powder on the undersides. Sori in cuplike indusia are on either side of the midveins.

range and habitat: This New Zealand endemic grows in well-drained soil at elevations up to 3000 ft. (900 m).

culture and comments: "Known in Kiwi English as silver fern and Maori as ponga, this is one of the slowest tree ferns to develop arboreally" (Schenk, pers. comm.). It is one of New Zealand's national emblems. Look for it as a symbol on the hull of the America's Cup 12-meter contenders as well as on the uniforms of national teams. it may someday grace their national flag having been proposed and supported by 100,000 petitioners in the summer of 2005 in response to a broad-based enthusiasm for a referendum that would redesign the flag. For practical purposes, with their silver lining, the fern fronds have been used as trail markers. The trunks are sometimes used in retaining walls and are particularly engaging when they start to sprout.

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