Cyatheaceae - Tree-fern family

Photo: P. Ballings
Zimbabwe

 

Description of the family

Tree-like plants with a trunk, terrestrial or lithophytic. Stem (trunk) large, erect, unbranched, densily covered in adventitious roots and leaf base scars. Fronds usually large, deeply 2-pinnatifid to 3-pinnate or 4-pinnatifid, borne at the apex of the trunk, tufted. Venation free, dichotomously forked, ending near the margin. Indumentum composed of contorted hairs and bracts with a fringed edge often ending in a seta. Sori circular, superficial on the veins before the bifurcation; indusium attached basally to the receptacle, cup-shaped when open; homosporus.

Comment: Some authors distinguish five different genera, our indigenous tree ferns would be placed in the genus Alsophila. We follow Neil R. Crouch et al. (2011) : all species are put into one genus with two subgenera, Cyathea with marginate petiole scales and Sphaeropteris with conform petiole scales.

Worldwide: 1 genus and 600-650 species in tropical and warm areas.

 

Genera

  • Cyathea Sm.
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    Literature

  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature.
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13: 1-222.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta. Flora Zambesiaca, 0: 1-254.
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