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Cyathea cunninghamii

"Slender Treefern"

Coming from New Zealand, Tasmania, and eastern Australia, this tall tree fern has probably not been introduced to cultivation in the United States or Britain just yet.  In the wilds it always inhabits cool, humid, shady gullies and streambanks, and as a result it is very fussy about its requirements for coolness, moisture, shade and shelter from wind.  It is a close relative of C. medullaris, but it is likely to be considerably hardier to cold, since it grows higher up in the mountains where snow often falls.  Its crown is much more thin and open, containing fewer fronds than most of the other tree ferns discussed here.  It is one of the tallest hardy tree ferns, often found towering over Dicksonia antarctica and Dicksonia fibrosa in habitat.

Because of its insistence on cool, sheltered conditions, it would probably be best suited to the maritime climates of Britain and parts of the Pacific Northwest in the Northern Hemisphere.  In the Melbourne area of Australia it is quite a challenge to keep alive through the hot summers.  But it should certainly be tried in cooler areas--its slender habit, soft-textured fronds and open crown could make it a very attractive subject in a cool woodland setting.

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