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Cibotium regale: Furry fern

To determine what species a particular fern belongs to, a magnifying glass is obligatory. The sporangia on the fronds usually provide one clue; another are the scales or hairs with which various parts of the fern are covered. These take many forms, from spiky bristles, ribbon-like bands, and scales to long, silky hairs.

In the fern genus Cibotium, the hair cover is so thick at the base of the frond stalks that the entire trunk appears to be wrapped in a shiny, silky, copper-colored coat. Not surprisingly, some call Cibotium the „sheep“ of the fern family. Unlike wool, this „hair“ has no commercial value. In the 19th century, entrepreneurs in Hawaii tried to commercialise Cibotium hair and selling it in the United States as stuffing for pillows and matresses. However, it was soon discovered that the hair absorbed moisture and quickly crumbled into dust, so the Victorians had to look elsewhere for their upholstery.



Audio file download
Cibotium regale: Furry fern (MP3, 445 KB)

Audio production and copyright: Soundgarden Audioguidance GmbH
Text: Andreas Gröger, Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg