New Zealand silver ferns these are tall growing tree ferns. They belong to the specie Cyathea Dealbata of the family Cyatheaceae. Commonly Maori people name them ponga.
The fern grows throughout the North Island, South Island, and Chatham Island from sea level to 600 metres. The tree reaches a height of ten metres. The silvery-greyish under site is responsible for their name.
Young fern fronds resemble the koru form, are brown, and hairy before they unfurl. Unfurling and aging lets their surface become smooth. The fronds are positioned horizontally to the trunk, while old leaves are scattered beneath the tree. Evergreen and non flowering, new plants grow after releasing the sori and spores that are on the under site of the leaves.
Astonishing is the fern variety in size and form. Ground covering ferns start with a size of 1 inch while tree ferns grow up to 10 metres tall. New Zealand is home to more than 190 fern species. Ten of these grow to trees. Eight of these ten and a third of all species are endemic to New Zealand. More than one hundred fern species grow in the Waitakere Ranges. The presence of such an abundance on ferns caused writer often to describe New Zealand as the land of ferns.
Once, the use of ponga stems in everyday life was to build store rooms and fences. The leaves piled up softened beds, layered on a construction they became shelters, and with their silver site up they served to visually mark paths during the darkness.
The koru form holds the meaning of new beginnings, growth and balance. It was and still is popular by Maori artists who translate it into tattoos and hand craft beautiful pendants in New Zealand jade and bone.
The spark hit numerous New Zealand artists too who gain a wealth of inspiration of its form which occurs in paintings, carvings in bone and greenstone, sculptures in stone, wood, and photographs. The hard wooden tree trunk is turned into eye catching souvenirs that impress with distinct pattern.
At the beginning of the 20th century small plants were object for trade. Maori woman used them to pay for clothing. Trades people shipped them as exotic plants to England where they were grown in glass houses. In their country of origin houses and verandas were decorated with fronds for festive occasions.
Today these trees are still popular for their shadow and their decorative qualities. Meanwhile leaf and koru are objects for a wide range of logos and products that identify unofficially New Zealand. Two sport teams are well known examples. First the "All Blacks" the national rugby team with their well known logo of a white silver fern leaf on black ground. The second one is the women’s netball team who adopted the name "Silver Ferns".
Encountered flora on a bush walk....