Cyathea capensis

This tree fern from the Cape region of South Africa finally seems to be getting a bit more attention from tree fern enthusiasts.  Its fronds are a deep green and rather glossy, attatched to long stipes, and the slender trunk can reach about 20' tall in the wild.  According to one reference, it is said to develop a bit of a "wig" around the crown in the manner of C. baileyana.  Unlike the other South African tree fern, C. dregei, it prefers to inhabit very sheltered, cool, shady streambanks several thousand feet above sea level.

This species is easy to grow in a semi-shady, moist, sheltered situation; and I think we can be fairly certain it ought to tolerate several degrees of frost, though its cold-hardiness limits are not known.  A similar but distinct species occurrs in southern Brazil that should also be tried for hardiness.  C. capensis has also been reported in other parts of East Africa.

A grove of Cyathea capensis in habitat in South Africa.  (I have no idea where this photo came from, so if it is yours and you would like to claim it or ask me to remove it, please write me.)

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