Common Name
Tree Fern

Hawaiian Name

Scientific Name
Cibotium sp.



Whole Plant




Location On Campus

This fern is located in the Kalama garden.

Natural Habitat

In Hawai‘i the häpu‘u fern is found in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and the east side of Hawai‘i. The häpu‘u fern is found mostly in a moist-wet environments.

Cultural Information

The häpu‘u fern is endemic meaning that it came here on it's own and is found nowhere else in the world. The tree heart of this fern was used as a starch for food and for laundry in the 1920's. There are 50-70 pounds of starch in the trunk.

Plant Description


  • Fibrous roots
  • Intertwining aerial roots


  • Grows to a height of about 457 cm
  • Brown in color


  • 91 to 247 cm long
  • Nearly triangular and have a broad base
  • Arch


  •  Spores are catapulted into the air by the fern

Life Cycle/

  • Reproduces with the help of the spores in its sack on it's underside
  • Live from 27 to 57 years
  • Life cycle lasts about 2 to 4 months


  • Spores help through propagation

Other interesting facts:

  • First appeared in the Jurassic period over 170 million years ago!
  • Pulu of the fern was used to stuff the bodies of the Hawaiians when they died
  • Pigs love to eat this

Web Site Links

Plant Detectives

This site shows information on the häpu‘u fern and more native plants.

Australian Tree Ferns

This site shows the basics of tree ferns and häpu‘u.

Cooperative Extension Service

This web site teaches about the culture and characteristics of häpu‘u ferns.



"Australian Tree Ferns". Stewart, Robert, web manager. April 11, 2003. Stewart International Marketing.April 11, 2003<

Binney, Ruth, ed. The Plant World, Volume 5: Chicago: World Book Inc, 1989.

Bornhorst, Heidi Leiauenue. Growing Hawaiian Plants. Hong Kong: The Bess Press Inc. 1996.

"Floral Status of Malaysia and Mexico". Hensley, David L. Land Scape, Flora Culture and Ornamental News. December 1997. March 13.

Kepler, Angela Kay. Hawaiian Heritage Plants. Honolulu: Oriental Publishing, 1984.q*

Krauss, Beatrice. Ethnobotany of Hawaii. Hawaii: U.H. Dept. of Botany, copyright unknown

Leonhardt, Ken. "Floral Status of Malaysia and Mexico. Green Seeds.11 Apr. 2003<

Schmer S.H., and R. Gustaton. Plants and Flowers of Hawai'i. Honolulu: Times Centre, 1987.

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

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