Cyathea dealbata (Silver Fern) is a fern which grows to a height of 9 m and a width of 2 m. It has a hardness rating of 9 and is quite resilient to frost.
E. Asia - Afghanistan to Nepal.
How to Grow Cyathea dealbata
Tree Fern will grow in light (sandy), medium (loamy), hard (clay) soil. It is not necessary for the soil to be well drained.
The soil prefers the following PH / acid levels:
- pH of less than 6, Acidic soils
- pH between 6 and 8, Neutral soils
- pH greater than 8, Basic soils
Tree fern prefers soils.
Ideal Planting Locations for Silver Ferns
Tree Fern can grow in full or semi shaded areas. Lowland to montane forests and shrubland on North, South and Chatham Islands.
Planting places suited to this plant described below.
- Grows within a woodland garden
- Works within dappled shade
- Grows in a shady edge
- Is suited to a deeply shaded location
- A bog garden plant
Cyathea dealbata Cultivation Details
Prefers a humus-rich soil in a sheltered light position but with shade from strong sun. It grows well in light woodland. Requires shelter from winds, an abundance of moisture at its roots and its trunk kept wet.
A very ornamental plant, it succeeds outdoors in woodland conditions in the mildest areas of the country, but it is tender in most parts of Britain. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.
Edible Uses of Silver Fern*
* See disclaimer
Edible Rating: 1/5
Pith of the stem. Rich in starch, it is normally roasted but can be eaten raw. Descriptions of the taste vary from bitter, sweet, astringent and like a bad turnip. The core of the plant near the growing tip is used, do not confuse this with the trunk of the plant, which is made up of a peaty substance from the decaying roots.
Harvesting the stem kills the plant so this use cannot normally be condoned. Young leaves - cooked. Harvested just before they unfurl, they are juicy and slimy, tasting like bitter celery.
Leaves - Stem - this often intergrades into leaves.
Silver Fern Propagation
Spores - can be surface sown at any time of the year in a light position in a warm greenhouse. Keep moist by standing the pot in shallow water or by enclosing it in a plastic bag. Germinates in 1-3 months at 25°C.
Prick out patches of the young plants into small pots and stand the pots in shallow water until the plants are well established. Grow on in a shady position in a greenhouse for at least the first two winters and plant out in late spring.
Although we have found no reports of toxicity for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable. Many ferns also contain thiaminase, an enzyme that robs the body of its vitamin B complex.
In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase.
Flora of New Zealand.
- Allan. H. H.
- Author: Allan. H. H.
- Publisher: The standard work, in 3 volumes though only the first two are of interest to the plant project. Very good on habitats.
- Date of Publication: 1961
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
- Huxley. A.
- Author: Huxley. A.
- Publisher: Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
- Date of Publication: 1992