Hapu’u is a native tree fern with an elegant construction. The bole grows as tall as 20 feet, more commonly 6 feet. 3 to 5 fronds sit atop the fibrous trunk, all cascading down from the same point. Depending on the elevation and species, fronds can be 20 feet in length from stipe to frond tip.
A mass of interwoven roots, the soft trunk is the perfect substrate for native seedling regeneration, especially in the native forest where ungulates are present. In cultivation, plants like anthuriums and orchids are attached to the trunks. In the past, the fibers were harvested for lining baskets and for a growing substrate.
The tree ferns grow in a wide variety of elevations. It tolerates almost pure shade (in the understory of the native forest) to all sun (at higher altitudes).
Propagation vegetatively from side shoots formed off the main trunk. Spore germination is difficult but possible. It’s essential to buy your hapu’u from a reputable dealer who harvested the trees legally. Also, ensure the hapu’u are free of little fire ants with a peanut butter survey stick before bringing them home.
Cibotium glaucum (hapu’u pulu): The most common native tree fern in cultivation. Reddish-brown pulu distinguished this species. And, the pulu tends to be softer than other species. The underside of the fronds is almost a blue/grey color.
Cibotium menziesii (hāpuʻu ʻiʻi): The stiff black pulu distinguishes this species.
Cibotium chamissoi (hāpuʻu meu): Its silhouette can distinguish this species. It resembles a martini glass. In general, the stipes and fronds are smaller, the trunk skinner, and taller than other hāpuʻu species.
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