Sadleria cyatheoides 'tree ferns' in Hawaii

stephenpope2000uk(Brighton, UK)May 11, 2004

Sadleria cyatheoides is a diminutive treefern-like species that grows as an understorey plant in the recognised Hapu'u Cibotium tree fern forests. It's also a rapid self-sporing coloniser of disturbed volcanic soil by the side of tracks and ditches. You guys in the islands might know it as 'ama'uma'u. But for us unlucky folk in chillier regions, I think it's a great sub-tropical trunk-forming fern for a protected glasshouse and always recommend it when people ask for advice on 'tree ferns that stay small and don't take too long to grow'...almost a contradction in terms!

Is it widely available in Hawaii, do you use it in your garden plantings?

Steve Pope - Brighton, Sussex Coast, England, UK

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KonaPhil(Hawaii)

The Hapu or Hawaiian tree fern I had died because it was to dry and I did not water it. The rain forest is another 1000 ft above me where they grow wild naturally.

I have planted several Australian tree ferns that require less water and do great. I am at the 1700 foot level, but I am also near the end of the Kona rain belt and have about 40 inches of rain annually.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2004 at 2:09AM
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hotzcatz(Hamakua, Hawaii)

I haven't really seen ama ferns in the garden shops, folks pretty much want the Hapuu or australian tree fern if they are going to buy one. I've seen some of the ama ferns in folk's yards, although I didn't ask where they got them from. Occasionally it is alongside the road, too.

I have some sort of tree fern growing under my coffee trees, but I haven't a clue what it is. It is taller and more vertical than an ama, smaller than a hapuu and has a less dense trunk. Unfortunately, they like to grow where I don't want them and they don't always survive being transplanted to somewhere else.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2004 at 2:25AM
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carney(23)

I bought an Australian tree fern several years ago, but it grew so tall (nearly 10 feet tall) under a giant kukui-nut tree, I had to cut off 1/3rd of the tree--from the top. I put the top in a plastic barrel some 3 months ago, but it has not shown any evidence that it has taken to its new home. I see no new (frond) shoots. Do you think that the top of the fern is dead? My other concern is that the headless mother-fern, which is in its original location hasn't shown any evidence that it's living--no evidence either of new fronds emerging from the tree. BTW, are the shoots of Australian tree ferns edible like the Hawaiian hapu shoots?

    Bookmark   October 10, 2004 at 3:49PM
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stephenpope2000uk(Brighton, UK)

Both top and bottom portions of your Cyathea cooperi tree fern are now dead - they can't be decapitated and transplanted, unlike your own endemic Cibotium (hapu) tree fern species, which will re-root from a severed crown or fallen trunk. Usually the Cibotium's left-over bottom portion will die, but it's still theoretically possible for offsets to get going from the base and along the sides of the old mother plant. In general, only Dicksonia and Cibotium tree ferns can be transplanted by severing the top half of the trunk - most, if not all, Cyatheas are not worth attempting.

It might sound mean of me, but I'm kind of relieved your Australian tree fern has bitten the dust. Imported Cyathea cooperi is most unsuitable for island gardens and has proved invasively destructive when it has escaped Hawaiian suburbia and set up home higher up in the forested areas. It's become a serious environmental issue whose repurcussions may be very grave in years to come. I concede that this particular genie is probably out of the bottle - the wind-blown spores will be everywhere - but that's no reason to give the cooperi menace any extra help. Best to support and conserve your own endemic tree fern species above thuggishly competitive imports - while you still have the chance.

Steve - Brighton, UK

    Bookmark   October 10, 2004 at 5:12PM
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Cyanea(z11 HI)

I am quite familiar with this fern, and I have seen it in the wild on high, mesic to wet, exposed, windswept ridges. I have also seen it growing along erosion scars, and wet/mesic forests. It is one of my personal favorites because of its compact appearance, short trunk, the color of its young fronds, the blechnum style sori, and it being a member of an endemic Hawai'ian genus. I have never seen this plant being cultivated. It is not endangered (it is fairly common in its habitat) and there is no reason for it to be grown for natural resource management. But I think it should be experimented with as a garden plant. I have never attempted propogation and I have never heard of anyone attempting to propogate this plant. There are so many native ferns that are just about a hundred times more beautiful (in my opinion) than the introduced ones seen in garden shops. But the only native ferns I have ever seen available are Asplenium nidus (although the plants being sold are probably not local varieties), Microlepia strigosa, and the native Nephrolepis ferns. The only endemic ferns available are the native Cibotium spp. There is definately a need for more knowledge of native plants here in Hawai'i.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2004 at 4:52AM
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stephenpope2000uk(Brighton, UK)

Sadleria is tricky to propagate - well, it is here. Maybe there are water chemistry issues that won't apply where you guys live. But if you can encourage a bit of 'self-seeding' on your property, you'll love this pocket sized tree fern that never gets more than two or three feet tall.

Steve - Brighton, UK

    Bookmark   October 15, 2004 at 6:44PM
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Cyanea(z11 HI)

How did you get Sadleria cyatheoides all the way up there? Its already difficult to get down here. Even though this is the only place in the world its native to. What is the trick to propogating these ferns from spores and from rhizomes? I have tried to propogate some native ferns from rhizomes and althouhg i have collected them a few months ago they appear to be alive but really stunted. I am also currently waiting (i have been waiting for two months) for Hawai'ian Cibotium spores to germinate. I have them in a plastic container with the cover and a small opening on the side. I make sure there is always moisture in the container and i used fine peat and vermiculite. I keep it in a shaded area. What is the key to propogating form spores.

I would also like to know how to get Sadleria cyatheoides. I'd love to try and grow one of these ferns.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2004 at 7:54PM
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stephenpope2000uk(Brighton, UK)

There are lots of web pages out there to guide you through spore propagation techniques - try scrolling through the Gardenweb sister site for Mosses & Ferns too. Keith's Fern Page will show up on Google - you'll love that. You could join a fern society also, and both learn all about spore propagation and get access to a vast range of new plant material to try at home.

Freshly harvested spore makes a big difference, and stuff you get via seed catalogues seldom justifies the bother. Fresh Cibotium spore will germinate in a month or two if everything is right, but getting all the way to a successfully hardened-off pot plant takes YEARS. Not something to be undertaken unless it really matters to you - go and buy a log or offset and pot that up instead, and enjoy your tree fern from Day One.

All my Sadleria were propagated from collected spore - there's never been a commercial UK source for pot plants and they are extremely rare in collection over here. I couldn't do a thing without greenhouses, propagators, heating, lighting, and humidifiers. For serious propagation in an unsuitable environment (I'm not in Hawaii!) climate control is vital. And patience: this can take years.

Steve - Brighton, UK

    Bookmark   October 17, 2004 at 6:32PM
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katherine6112_gmail_com

When my husband and I were in Hawaii this Christmas, I saw a lot of trees and plants that I have seen growing here in Louisiana... in the wild. I understand that there are no plants that are indigenous of Hawaii... Is this true?
So, can I grow Hawaii plants/trees/fruits/ vegetables in Mansfield, Louisiana. We are in the northern part of Louisiana

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 8:21PM
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treeferns_btinternet_com

'I understand that there are no plants that are indigenous of Hawaii... Is this true?'

That's not true, Katherine. Hawaii has hundreds of unique endemic plant species found nowhere else - ferns especially. In fact, Cibotium and Sadleria - the tree ferns being discussed in this very thread - are unique to the Hawaiian islands.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 4:13PM
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silversword(9A)

Hi Katherine,
You can probably grow a lot of plants in Louisiana that you've seen in Hawaii. It's startling to come to the mainland and see plants that are giant and flourishing in the wild in Hawaii as babied houseplants elsewhere. Check the zones and plant things that are suitable to your temperate zone. In S. California I can enjoy many of the plants I loved in Hawaii (not endemic).

Indigenous means a plant that has come from somewhere else and exists in its original form in both locations.

Endemic means a plant that has come from somewhere else and has changed to become a plant unique to its new environment and the new plant is not found anywhere else on Earth.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 2:02PM
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keoks

when my grandmother past away a few years ago i transplanted her beloved hapuu fern in my back yard. It has recently developed some brown furry stuff all over it and it appears to be choking it to death. The sprouts are having a hard time uncurling because of it. How can I stop it? and what do I do to save her tree?

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 9:22PM
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eco_kid

The Sadleria cyatheoides seems to be a very uncommon native fern to find for sale, compared to Cibotium glaucum (Hapuu). I rarely seem to see the Sadleria planted in peoples yard - unless you live in higher elevation places like Volcano, Mt. View, and Kamuela then it seems to be more common, even naturally growing in home owners yards. I would definitely stay away from the Australian Tree Fern, as it is highly invasive - though very pretty.

(:

    Bookmark   September 29, 2014 at 9:44PM
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