This fern can reach over 10 metres in height and although that may be quite high for a fern species it is by no means the tallest species in New Zealand. What distinguishes this fern tree from other tall ferns such as the Black Fern is the colouration of the underside of the fronds. They are a silver to white colour which stands out in the bush, making the fronds useful for laying along tracks to highlight them at night or as a marker if you become lost in the bush.
The silver fern is one of New Zealand's emblems along with the Koru and the Kowhai tree. It is used in the clothing and marketing of many sports teams; most famously as the logo of the New Zealand Rugby Union team, the All Blacks as well as the Cricket team called the Black Caps. The Silver Ferns is the name of the New Zealand netball team.