Cyathea medullaris

Black tree fern

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Key information

Plant type

Tender perennial


Dramatic foliage



Skill level


photo by Fiona Lea, copyright GAP Photos (154180)

Plant details

The tallest of the New Zealand tree ferns, this plant has a prehistoric grandeur. The slender, hairy black trunk bears a rosette of arching, glossy fronds, which can reach 6m in length. Plant in humus-rich, moist soil and water generously during hot spells, moderately at other times. Check for a strong root system when selecting plants. Provide shelter from both strong sunlight and extreme cold. The safest bet is to keep this species permanently under glass. If growing the plant outdoors, trunks should be securely wrapped during winter months. A combination of horticultural fleece and loft insulation or bubble wrap works well. Propagate in spring, by surface sowing spores in a warm greenhouse.

Family: Cyatheaceae

Genus: Cyathea

Species: medullaris

Plant type: Tender perennial

Foliage colour: Dark green

Feature: Dramatic foliage

Hardiness: Tender

Skill level: Experienced

Height: 900cm

Spread: 600cm

Time to plant seeds: March to May

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