This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(Greek, a cup, alluding to the indusia). Cyatheaceae. A large genus of tree ferns in both hemispheres, with a globose indusium which ultimately ruptures at the apex and becomes cup-shaped. All the species in cult, have decompound leaves Most of them are large plants, species with trunks 20-30 ft. high being common, but there arc a few species that have leaves and stems no more than 2 ft. long. Strictly speaking, the genus Alsophila is a part of Cyathea. Many other species from Colombia and the W. Indies besides those described below are well worthy of cultivation.
The species offer a great variety. Those of temperate regions are mostly stout and not spiny; the tropical species are more slender and in many cases densely armed with stout spines. All species are evergreen. The culture of cyatheas is simple in warmhouses. They require an abundance of water at the roots and the trunks should be kept constantly moist. The foliage lasts longer if it has been inured to the sun during summer. Like all other tree ferns, cyatheas need little pot-room. They rarely produce adventitious growths along the trunk or at the base and none is proliferous. The plants are, therefore, usually propagated by spores, which germinate freely, making attractive young plants in two seasons. (Adapted from Schneider, "Book of Choice Ferns.")
A. Rachides unarmed: leaves white beneath. dealbata, Swartz. Rachides with pale rusty wool when young: leaves firm, bi-tripinnate, almost pure white beneath. New Zeal. - C. Smithii, Hort., is regarded by some as a horticultural variety.
aa. Rachides unarmed: leaves green beneath. Burkei, Hook. Stalks with tubercles near the base bearing large, glossy rusty scales: leaves bipinnate, with broad pinnules. S. Africa
Karst. Figs. 1178,1179. Leaves tripinnatifid, with oblong-lanceolate pinnae and rather narrow lanceolate pinnules; segments scaly on the ribs beneath. Colombia.
Fig. 1178. Cyathea meridensis.
Fig. 1179. Fruiting pinnule of Cyathea meridensis.
aaa. Rachides spiny: leaves green beneath.
Swartz. Leaves bi-tripinnate, densely scaly when young, with soft, deciduous hair-like scales; segments coarsely serrate or pinnatifid, on spore-bearing leaves New Zeal.
C. angolensis, Welw. A greenhouse species said to have fronds 6-8 ft. long produced from a trunk which attains 12-15 ft. tropical W. Africa L M Underwood.