Native plants

Soft tree fern

Scientific name: Cyathea smithii
Maori name: Katote
Other names: Smiths tree fern

Fern - native to the Wellington Region
Suits: damp, partial shade, sunny, shelter, coastal forest garden, small garden or balcony, wetlands and water features

About Soft tree fern

The masses of very soft and delicate looking fronds which spread horizontally from the crown and reach 2 – 2.5m in length gives this tree ferns its name- soft tree fern. With a chestnut colored trunk, up to 8 metre tall this tree fern grows slow and therefor works even in small gardens. Dead fronds often leave a skirt around the slender, fibrous trunk when they die. This is to keep moisture and humidity along the trunk, but also helps it protect themselfs against vines and epiphytes establising along the trunk, potentially breaking it down. It still allows however plants to grow on the lower parts of the trunk. This skirt is very characteristic of this species and makes it easy to identify among other New Zealand species of tree fern.

Usually found in dense forest where it is often a common subcanopy species, in wetter areas often extending in open scrub. Works well in a shady and wet part in a garden with reasonably shelter from wind. Young individuals can easily often confused with the gully tree fern- Cyathea cunninghamii.

Provides for lizards

  • Clump forming for camouflage and insects
  • Protection from predators

Read more about gardening for lizards.

More detail