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Cyathea medullaris - (G.Forst.)Sw.

Common Name Black Tree Fern
Family Cyatheaceae
USDA hardiness 8-11
Known Hazards Although we have found no reports of toxicity for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable[200]. Many ferns also contain thiaminase, an enzyme that robs the body of its vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase[172].
Habitats Lowland forests in North, South and Stewart Islands of New Zealand[44].
Range Australia, New Zealand.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care
Half Hardy Moist Soil Wet Soil Semi-shade
Cyathea medullaris Black Tree Fern


Cyathea medullaris Black Tree Fern

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of fern
Cyathea medullaris is an evergreen Fern growing to 9 m (29ft) by 6 m (19ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9 and is frost tender. It is in leaf all year.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist or wet soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Habitats

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade; Bog Garden;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Stem
Edible Uses:

Pith of stem - raw or cooked[46, 61, 154, 173, 193]. Rich in starch, the portion below the growing point is the part used[193], do not confuse this with the trunk of the plant, which is made up of a peaty substance from the decaying roots[K]. The pith is used as a coarse sago substitute[2]. The pith contains (dry weight) 3.6% protein, 7.4% starch, 3.1% lipids and 3% simple reducing sugars[173]. The stem is often damaged some time prior to harvest in order to improve the flavour of the pith, a slimy red bitter gum exudes from the wound[173]. Harvesting the stem kills the plant and so cannot normally be condoned[193]. Base of the frond stems - cooked. Young new croziers - cooked[173]. Harvested just before they unfurl, they are juicy and slimy, tasting somewhat like bitter celery[193].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.


None known

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Other Uses

None known

Cultivation details

Prefers a humus-rich soil in a sheltered light position but with shade from strong sun It grows well in light woodland. Requires shelter from winds, an abundance of moisture at its roots and its trunk kept wet[1, 49, 200]. A very ornamental plant, it succeeds outdoors in woodland conditions in the mildest parts of the country, but is tender in most parts of Britain[49]. It can bet grown in pots in a shady position in a conservatory or cool greenhouse and placed outside in the summer[1]. It can grow well in very small pots[1]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233].

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Propagation

Spores - can be surface sown at any time of the year in a light position in a warm greenhouse[164]. Keep moist by standing the pot in shallow water or by enclosing it in a plastic bag. Germinates in 1 - 3 months at 25°c. Prick out patches of the young plants into small pots and stand the pots in shallow water until the plants are well established[164]. Grow on in a shady position in a greenhouse for at least the first two winters and plant out in late spring.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Expert comment

Author

(G.Forst.)Sw.

Botanical References

144

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Boris Jukic   Mon Mar 28 00:52:58 2005

Can you ship this plant to the US? I want it. Boris

Marylou   Sun Apr 27 2008

I am in Seattle area Washington State USA /interested in purchasing a few N.Z Tree Fern spores including The Silver Tree Fern amoung other Cyathea . I am not in any business of selling this is personal just something interested in trying . Do you know a source where these could be purchased . Thanks

David Nicholls   Tue Jul 8 2008

CHOKING HAZARD. Avoid the hairs that surround the main large "fiddle-head" of the frond. They have a habit of finding their way down the wind-pipe, most unpleasant. It's possible the can be removed somehow, the side shoots are usually hair free.

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Subject : Cyathea medullaris  
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