Cyathea capensis (L.f.) Sm.

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Cyathea capensis

Photo: Petra Ballings

Cyathea capensis

Photo: Petra Ballings

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Synonyms: Alsophila capensis (L.f.) J. Sm.
Cyathea riparia Willd.
Hemitelia capensis (L.f.) Kaulf.
Polypodium capense L.f.
Trichomanes incisum Thunb.
Common names: Forest tree fern (English)
Status: Native
Tree fern. Caudex up to 4.5 m × 20-25 cm, crowned with a 'nest of moss-like' aphlebia (a pair of finely divided and much reduced pinnae at the base of the stipe). Fronds herbaceous. Stem without spines. Stipe up to 50 cm long, light brown, set with dark brown basal scales; scales 10 mm long, dark, glossy, lanceolate, margin pale, irregularly cut, apex bristle like. Lamina up to 2m × 0.8m, deeply 3-pinnatifid, elliptic in outline. Ultimate lobes narrowly oblong-falcate, margins toothed, apex acute, lower surface with few pale, thin bullate scales set along the costules. Sori round, one per lobe, set adjacent to the costule, c. 1 mm diameter; indusium asymmetric, variable, scale like, attached on one side of the sorus, often reduced or even absent.
Notes: Recognisable by the 'nest' of moss-like modified pinnules in the crown of the stem
Derivation of specific name: capensis: first collected in the Cape by C. Thunberg, a Swedish botanist
Habitat: Shaded, moist ravines on mountain slopes or in temperate forest.
Altitude range: (metres) 200 - 1830 m
Worldwide distribution: Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Eswatini, Tanzania, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe distribution: E
Growth form(s): Tree, terrestrial.
Endemic status:
Red data list status: Lower Risk - least concern
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Images last updated: Sunday 1 August 2010

Burrows, J.E. (1990). Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Page 88. (Includes a picture).

Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (1993). An annotated check-list of the pteridophytes of Malawi Kirkia 14(1) Page 84.

Burrows, J.E., Burrows, S.M., Lötter, M.C. & Schmidt, E. (2018). Trees and Shrubs Mozambique Publishing Print Matters (Pty), Cape Town. Page 29. as Cyathea capensis var. capensis (Includes a picture).

Chapano, C. & Mamuto, M. (2003). Plants of the Chimanimani District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 18.

Coates Palgrave, K. (revised and updated by Meg Coates Palgrave) (2002). Trees of Southern Africa 3rd edition. Struik, South Africa Page 72. (Includes a picture).

Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011). Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide Struik Nature Pages 272 - 273. (Includes a picture).

Da Silva, M.C., Izidine, S. & Amude, A.B. (2004). A preliminary checklist of the vascular plants of Mozambique. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 30 Sabonet, Pretoria Page 10. As Cyathea capensis var. deckenii

Drummond, R.B. (1975). A list of trees, shrubs and woody climbers indigenous or naturalised in Rhodesia. Kirkia 10(1) Page 231.

Golding, J.S. (ed.) (2002). Zimbabwe Plant Red Data List. Southern African Plant Red Data Lists. SABONET 14 Page 173.

Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983). The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 202 - 203. As Alsophila capensis (L. f. ) J. Sm. (Includes a picture).

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 5.

Roux, J.P. (2001). Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report 13 Page 86. (Includes a picture).

Roux, J.P. (2009). Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands Page 62. As Alsophila capensis (L.f.)J.Sm.

Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970). Pteridophyta Flora Zambesiaca Pages 74 - 75. (Includes a picture).

White, F., Dowsett-Lemaire, F. & Chapman, J.D. (2001). Evergreen forest flora of Malawi Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Pages 77 - 78.

Wursten, B., Timberlake, J. & Darbyshire, I. (2017). The Chimanimani Mountains: an updated checklist. Kirkia 19(1) Page 78.

Other sources of information about Cyathea capensis:

Our websites:

Flora of Malawi: Cyathea capensis
Flora of Mozambique: Cyathea capensis

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Cyathea capensis
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Cyathea capensis
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Cyathea capensis
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Cyathea capensis
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
iNaturalist: Cyathea capensis
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Cyathea capensis
JSTOR Plant Science: Cyathea capensis
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Cyathea capensis
Plants of the World Online: Cyathea capensis
Tropicos: Cyathea capensis
Wikipedia: Cyathea capensis

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2002-24

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2024). Flora of Zimbabwe: Species information: Cyathea capensis., retrieved 15 April 2024

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