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Cibotium menziesii
Alternative Botanical Names
None found
Common Names
Hapu'u 'I'i
Hawaiian Tree Fern
Male Tree Fern
Potential or Traditional Uses
Photo of Cibotium menziesii
Cibotium menziesii is Hawai'i's largest tree fern. It can reach 35 feet in height, but often grows only 7 to 25 feet tall. The trunk can be up to 2 1/2 feet in diameter. The fronds arch and can grow as long as 12 feet. The fronds of Cibotium menziesii are smooth and slightly paler underneath with yellowish midribs. They are singly divided, but the divisions are lobed. Soft, brown hairs cover the young fronds, but upper parts of the frond stalks are covered with stiff, black hairs. The spores form in pouches at the ends of the small veins. (Bornhorst 1996; Smith 1999a; Valier 1995)
Habitat and Geographic Range
Cibotium menziesii is an endemic Hawaiian tree fern and is found on all the major Hawaiian islands. This tree fern can grow either terrestrially (on the ground) or epiphytically (on trees or shrubs). It grows in moist and wet forests and is most common at elevations ranging from 1,000 to 6,000 feet. (Smith 1999a; Valier 1995)
Propagation by Spores
Cibotium menziesii can be grown from spores. Spores should be collected from mature fronds of healthy plants. The most mature fronds are generally those lower down on the plant. The spore containers (sori) on these fronds should appear full and plump. The frond branches (pinnae) should be removed from the main frond stem and dried in paper bags, envelopes, or folded newspaper packets. Place each frond piece in its own paper container with the spore side down. To ensure that the spores dry quickly and do not mold, place the containers in a single layer in a warm, dry location for 2 or 3 days. The ripe spores will fall off of the fronds. The spores can be separated from the remaining debris using a very fine screen or seive.

Sanitation is an important part of sowing fern spores to prevent both fungal infections and cross contamination by other fern spores. Smith uses a commercial mix containing sphagnum peat, vermiculite, and perlite (Pro-Mix). He moistens this mix with distilled water and microwaves it in a lidded container for 10 minutes on the high setting of the microwave oven.

After being heated in the microwave, the planting mix is spread in a sterile plastic tray with a clear plastic lid ("humididome") and allowed to cool. The cleaned spores are spread on the surface of the cooled mix and moistened with a fine spray of distilled water. Smith suggests that mixing the spores with water and spraying them onto the planting mix can provide more even distribution. Replace the lid as quickly as possible to prevent contamination.

Clean, dry spores can be stored in paper envelopes or packets. Place the envelopes in an air tight container and place it in the refrigerator. (Smith 1999a)

Propagation by Cuttings
Cibotium menziesii can be grown from the side shoots that form on the main trunks. (Bornhorst 1996)
Propagation by Division
Not applicable.
Propagation by Air Layers
Not applicable.
Propagation by Grafting
Not applicable.
Propagation by Tissue Culture
No information located to date.
Bornhorst, Heidi L. 1996. Growing native Hawaiian plants: a how-to guide for the gardener. Honolulu: The Bess Press. p. 74-76.

Hensley, David, Rhonda Stibbe, Norman Bezona, and Fred Rauch. 1997. Hapuu (Hawaiian tree fern), Ornamentals and Flowers, OF-16. Honolulu: Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa. (Also available as a PDF file at Free CTAHR Publications.)

Smith, Art. [1999a.] Cibotium Menziesii .... Tree Ferns in Hawaii [Web site]. [Cited 17 February 2000]. Available from menziesii.htm .

Smith, Art. [1999b.] Tree Fern Sport Notes ..... Tree Ferns in Hawaii [Web site]. [Cited 17 February 2000]. Available from

Valier, Kathy. 1995. Ferns of Hawai'i. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. p. 52.

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The image in this record is used with permission from Art Smith's Web site "Tree Ferns in Hawaii" at

Last updated:
23 February 2000

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