Botanical name: Cyathea dealbata

Other names: Silver fern, fern tree

Habitat: The Ponga can be found in the sub canopy of native forests, as well as in scrubland, and pine forests. The New Zealand weta and wolf spider like to live in the Ponga tree

Appearance: This fern is known to grow to heights of 10 metres or more. The fronds tend to be about 4 m long and can have a silver-white colouration on the undersides. The trunk is brown and flaky. The Koru or pikopiko is where the fronds spread out from and is an important symbol to Māori and New Zealand. It is the symbol of new life.


The silver fern is part of the Ponga family, and is the national plant symbol for New Zealand. It is worn over the heart by all sportsman representing New Zealand.

Use: The spiral shoots of mamaku are called pikopiko, and they were a traditional food of Māori. This distinctive silver colouration has made them useful for laying along tracks for night walking. It is quite common to see living Ponga fences in gardens around New Zealand.



  • What famous New Zealand song talks about a ponga tree?
  • How many New Zealand sport teams use fern in their name?


More information can be found here:

We would like to acknowledge the contribution of Anusha and Hargun to this research.