Cyathea - Cyatheaceae

Cyathea mossambicensis Baker

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Alsophila mossambicensis (Baker) R. M. Tryon
Cyathea holstii Hieron.
Cyathea humilis Hieron.
Alsophila campanulata R.M.Tryon

Common name


Caudex 80 × 20 cm, without spines and without aphlebia in the crown of the caudex. Fronds herbaceous, up to 2 m long. Stipe dark brown, up to 20 cm long, minutely tuberculate, set with brown scales towards the base; scales narrowly lanceolate, margins pale, apex with a dark seta. Lamina up to 1.9 × 0.8 m, pinnate to 2-pinnatifid, rarely 3-pinnatifid, elliptic in outline, lowest four pairs of pinnae reduced. Rhachis light redbrown with scattered pale thick hairs and small scales on the lower surface. Pinnae up to 26 × 4.5 cm, oblong-attenuate, incised to the costa into narrowly oblong slightly falcate lobes, margins toothed, apex acute, upper surface with stiff curved pale hairs on the costa, lower surface with scattered stiff twisted hairs along the veins. Sori set in a single row on each side of the costule, restricted to the lower half of the pinnule; indusium cup-shaped, fragmenting soon after maturity.


Differs from other tree ferns in having less divided, pinnate to 2-pinnatifid fronds.


mossambicensis: of Mozambique, where this fern was first collected.


Deep shade along streambanks in evergreen or semi-deciduous forest

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

Malawi, Mozambique, Sudan and South Sudan, Tanzania , Zimbabwe.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 86 - 87. (Includes a picture).
  • Edwards, Peter J. (2005) Cyatheaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 7 - 8. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 198 - 199. As Alsophila mossambicensis (Bak.) Tryon (Includes a picture).
  • Roux, J.P. (2009) Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands. Strelitzia 23, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Page 65. As Alsophila mossambicensis (Baker) R.M.Tryon
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 88.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Page 72. (Includes a picture).