Cyatheaceae - Tree-fern family
Photo: P. Ballings
Description of the family
Tree-like plants with a trunk, terrestrial or lithophytic. Stem (trunk) large, erect, unbranched, densily covered in adventitious roots and leaf base scars. Fronds usually large, deeply 2-pinnatifid to 3-pinnate or 4-pinnatifid, borne at the apex of the trunk, tufted. Venation free, dichotomously forked, ending near the margin. Indumentum composed of contorted hairs and bracts with a fringed edge often ending in a seta. Sori circular, superficial on the veins before the bifurcation; indusium attached basally to the receptacle, cup-shaped when open; homosporus.
Comment: Some authors distinguish five different genera, our indigenous tree ferns would be placed in the genus Alsophila. We follow Neil R. Crouch et al. (2011) : all species are put into one genus with two subgenera, Cyathea with marginate petiole scales and Sphaeropteris with conform petiole scales.
Worldwide: 1 genus and 600-650 species in tropical and warm areas.