Rough tree fern (Cyathea australis)

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Rough tree fern in temperate rainforest
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Rough tree fern fact file

Rough tree fern description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassPteropsida
OrderFilicales
FamilyCyatheaceae
GenusCyathea (1)

This medium to large tree fern is particularly attractive with a robust black trunk and long, bright green fronds (3). It is known as the ‘rough’ tree fern due to the rough protuberances on the stalk of the fronds (2). The broad trunk, actually an above-ground rhizome, is also covered with rough, hair-like scales (4).

Subspecies: There are two subspecies – Cyathea australis australis and Cyathea australis norfolkensis.

Size
Trunk height: up to 10 m (2)
Frond length: 1.5 – 3 m (3)
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Rough tree fern biology

The rough tree fern does not flower, but instead produces spores on the underside of the leaves, which drop off and germinate into small heart-shaped plants known as prothalli. These small plants create both male and female cells, which, once combined, result in a long-lived adult fern (4).

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Rough tree fern range

Subspecies Cyathea australis australis is found in all eastern states of Australia, but subspecies Cyathea australis norfolkensis is found only on Norfolk Island, off the east coast of Australia (1).

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Rough tree fern habitat

This species is found within rainforests and open dry forests (5) to elevations of 1,300 metres (3).

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Rough tree fern status

The rough tree fern is listed on Appendix II of CITES (1).

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Rough tree fern threats

This species is not seriously threatened and is common in horticulture. The main threat to its survival in the wild is habitat loss, as forests are felled for farmland and urbanisation (1).

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Rough tree fern conservation

No targeted conservation action is in place for this species, but its place in horticulture ensures a reserve population.

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Find out more

For further information on fern species see the Australian National Botanic Gardens website:
http://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/interns-2003/cyathea-spp.html

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
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Glossary

Rhizome
Thickened, branching, creeping storage stems. Although most rhizomes grow laterally just along or slightly below the soil's surface, some grow several inches deep. Roots grow from the underside of the rhizome, and during the growing season new growth sprouts from buds along the top. A familiar rhizome is the ginger used in cooking.
Subspecies
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
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References

  1. CITES (May, 2005)
    http://www.cites.org
  2. The Farrer Centre – Charles Stuart University (May, 2005)
    http://farrer.riv.csu.edu.au/ASGAP/c-aus.html
  3. Cold-hardy Tree Ferns (May, 2005)
    http://www.angelfire.com/wa/margate/australis.html
  4. Australian National Botanic Gardens (May, 2005)
    http://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/interns-2003/cyathea-spp.html
  5. Mr Fern (May, 2005)
    http://www.mrfern.com.au/cyathea.htm
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Image credit

Rough tree fern in temperate rainforest  
Rough tree fern in temperate rainforest

© Marianne F. Porteners / Auscape International

Auscape International
PO Box 1024,
Bowral
NSW
25a76
Australia
Tel: (+61) 2 4885 2245
Fax: (+61) 2 4885 2715
sales@auscape.com.au
http://www.auscape.com.au

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