Kapongais a regular feature of coastal and lowland forests throughout New Zealand. It grows withmānukaandkānukascrub nearer the coast, and as a sub-canopy cover under kauri, podocarp and beech forests.
The fern fronds are about 4m long and have distinctive silvery-white undersides.
The unfurling frond, the koru, is a unique symbol often featuring in Māori carving,tāmokoand artwork. It represents newlife and growth, as well as perpetual movement and a return to the point of origin.
It been a national symbol for New Zealand since rugby teams playing overseas used it in the late 1880s. Soon afterwards itwas used on butter and dairy products sold in Britain.
Its pith was historically used to make a poultice to treat skin disease.