The 'Ama'u fern Scientific Name: Sadleiria spp. Endemic: All HI
Unique to Hawai'i and can be found in shady areas from sea level all the way up to 7,000 ft. It can vary in size from 1 ft. or so high, to adult ferns that have fronds over 10 ft. long. Many 'Ama'u ferns can be found in Volcano Village and the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. This was in the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.
The trunks of the 'Ama'u resemble that of the Hāpu'u fern in that it has a golden-orange, soft, velvety hair, or pulu, that was used in the past as a stuffing for pillows and mattresses. However, the fronds themselves look different from Hāpu'u and have a unusual unfurling pattern and twice divided leaves. The young fronds are reddish colored and turn to the more familiar green once they age. http://bit.ly/2HPa1Mc
It is one of the first species to colonize the barren lava flows and it is just as much at home in these water-starved habitats as it is in wetter forests. It is easily the most successful species in this genus, having colonized every island in the archipelago.
What sets the 'Ama'u apart is its gametophyte cycle it is capable of both outcrossing and self-fertilization. Outcrossing, of course, promotes genetic diversity, however, the ability to self-fertilize means that a new plant can grow from only a single spore. Very advantageous when it comes to colonizing new habitats. http://bit.ly/2F1qxWf
Cultural uses included occasionally in times of famine the starchy pith was eaten. A red dye was also extracted from the cortex of the trunk. The sap from within the rolled up fronds was used as a glue for binding and patching sheets of kapa. The fronds were also used as thatching the center ridge pole for waterproofing, or sometimes the whole house when pili wasn’t available. http://bit.ly/2HdfvTI
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