Cibotium spp. – Hapu’u
Other Common Names: Manfern, Hawaiian Tree Fern
Cibotium spp., is a tree fern species that belong to the family of Cibotiaceae. It is prevalent in the islands of Hawaii and is commonly referred to as the Hawaiian tree fern or Hapu’u. They grow at middle to upper elevations, in moderately wet to wet native forests, and use spores to reproduce. The spores of Hapu’u are formed and released from the end of the fronds.
Usually, a Hapu’u tree grows from 7 to 25 feet or 2.1 to 7.6 meters in height, but it can also grow up to 35 feet or 11 meters. The diameter is nearly 3 feet or 0.91 meters, that is why it is considered as the largest tree fern in Hawaii.
The trunk of the non-flowering Hapu’u is unbranched and is composed of firm and hard fibres,which surround a starchy medulla or pith. The very large leaves are at the top of the trunk and have a distinct light green to yellow midrib and pale colored underside. The leaves or fronds are coarse and have hairs that resemble a cobweb. They can grow very long, up to 12 feet or 3.7 meters in length.
In some places, the starchy central part of the trunk is cooked and eaten, especially during times of famine. The same part is also useful as an essential source of food for feral pigs or wild boars. Additionally, some parts of the Hapu’u, such as the pith, bark, and frond fibres, are used to treat ailments like joint stiffness and muscle pain.