Cyathea smithii

Cyathea smithii

''Cyathea smithii'', commonly known as the soft tree fern or kātote, is a species of tree fern from New Zealand.
Soft tree fern (Cyathea smithii) Pupu Rangi sanctuary, New Zealand. Dec 31, 2016. Cyathea smithii,Geotagged,New Zealand,Summer

Appearance

Katote is an understory tree fern that grows up to 8 m tall but tends not reaching into the canopy as do other iconic members of this genus. It grows slowly and is not a strong competitor except at higher altitudes. Like all ''Cyathea'' tree ferns, it has rough scales along its rachis and trunk. A distinctive feature is the retention of dead fronds as a skirt. The skirt is not the whole frond, only the central rachis, making it a more compact skirt than that of ''Dicksonia fibrosa'', another skirt clad tree fern.

''Cyathea smithii'' produces masses of very soft and delicate looking fronds which spread horizontally from the crown and reach 2–2.5 m in length.

Distribution

The species natural distribution covers North Island, South Island, Stewart Island/Rakiura, and the Chatham Islands of New Zealand south to the Auckland Islands. It is common in montane forest, with populations from the southern regions of its range growing in lowland forest. In the Westland forests of South Island, ''C. smithii'' occurs in the understory of certain broadleaf/podocarp forests.

Habitat

The species natural distribution covers North Island, South Island, Stewart Island/Rakiura, and the Chatham Islands of New Zealand south to the Auckland Islands. It is common in montane forest, with populations from the southern regions of its range growing in lowland forest. In the Westland forests of South Island, ''C. smithii'' occurs in the understory of certain broadleaf/podocarp forests.

Uses

The pith was traditionally used as a starch source, but as it is rich in resin, it would likely be a food of last resort or at least an acquired taste.
Tree fern trunks have been used as rough building material, fencing, and makeshift trackwork.

References:

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Taxonomy
KingdomPlantae
DivisionPolypodiophyta
ClassPolypodiopsida
OrderCyatheales
FamilyCyatheaceae
GenusCyathea
SpeciesC. smithii
Photographed in
New Zealand