There’s something about the ponga (tree fern) that fascinates me. It’s primeval. It’s complex. It makes me think of dinosaurs and a time when the forest rang with the calls of birds, big and small. It has beauty that at once repels but also draws you in.
The frond, born a fiddlehead, starts life born a wet, hairy, awful, alien-looking object, barely recognisable as vegetation:
Slowly, tightly packed pinnae unfurl:
From each pinna come tightly packed pinnules, each a mirror image of its parent:
Slowly, feathery pinnulets unwrap:
Finally, the majestic tree.
It spins my brain.
I’m not alone on this one. It’s the unofficial national symbol of New Zealand.