‘Blue Tree Fern’
Common names for Cyathea contaminans include the ‘blue tree fern’ or ‘mountain tree fern’.
Cyathea contaminans is native to India, New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Phillipines. The so called ‘mountain tree fern’ can be found growing at altitudes of up to 5500ft. The species can also be found growing at lower altitudes along gullies or near rivers. Cyathea contaminans will tolerate full sun in a cooler climate.
Due to its high attitude habitat such as the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia and Mount Kinabalu, New Guinea, Cyathea contaminans is found in cooler areas where the temperature range is typically between 5°C (41°F) and 32°C (90°F).
Cyathea contaminans is a fern of interest due to the pale hairs it retains on its trunk and stipes, and also due the relatively vigorous growth rates. The plants trunk can look like stipes have pushed through a straw drunk with the contrast of the old dark stipe bases against the pale hairs. Specimen plants can reach up to 20m (65ft) in height; with a canopy of approximately 6.5m (22ft).
Outside of the tropics Cyathea contaminans is a difficult fern to propagate into a mature specimen due to its requirement for a warm, moist and humid environment. It is a fern worth trying for those who can create these conditions with orchid houses making the ideal home. If trying this fern one of the key requirements is to keep the roots in a well drained but very moist soil. Given the ideal growing conditions plants can grow a trunk of 8-10ft from spore within 6 or 7 years. This makes it one of the fastest growing tree ferns.
Cyathea contaminans is widely harvested in Indonesia as a valuable commodity that can be exported to Tiawan, Japan and other countries. The trunks are carved into vases and statues or left and used as poles for building small structures. In New Guinea young fronds of Cyathea contaminans are boiled and eaten.
Family Name: Cyatheaceae.
Common Names: Blue Tree Fern, Mountain Tree Fern
Position: Sheltered from drying winds.
Soil: Humus-rich, neutral to acid soil.
Growth Rate: Fast.
Eventual spread: 6.5m.
Max Height: 20m.
Hardiness: Tropical – these ferns are not hardy and will seldom tolerate temperatures lower than 3-4°C.
Growing tips: Keep roots moist but not saturated at all times.