Cyathea - Cyatheaceae

Cyathea cooperi (F.Muell.) Domin.






Alsophila cooperi Hook. ex F.Muell.
Sphaeropteris cooperi (Hook. ex F.Muell.) R.M.Tryon

Common name


Caudex massive, up to 12 x 1.5 m, lower trunk often thickened by adventitious roots, trunk set with with large oval scars left by fallen fronds. Fronds to 4 m long, with large prominent croziers, densely scaly at first, but often soon easily shed. Stipe up to 50 cm long, covered with rounded warts to c. 1 mm long; basal scales up to 50 x 5 mm, whitish and pale brown, lanceolate in outline, apex tapering to a point, margin with short close-set dark orange-brown bristles; smaller scales often with a broad orange-brown margin. Lamina up to 3.5 m long, 3-pinnatifid to 3-pinnate. Pinnae up to 65 x 26 cm long. Pinnules to 12 x 2.5 cm, lobed almost to the costule throughout, thus winged for most of its lenght, with 1-5 basal lobes adnate, lowermost somewhat overlapping costa; margins toothed or rarely deeply lobed; costae near base with narrow brown scales with marginal setae, grading to shorter whitish scales with rather long, brown or whitish marginal setae, also with a few thick hairs on both surfaces near apices of pinnules. Sori orbicular, up to 16 per lobe, situated midway between costule and margin, usually at a fork along the free veins; false indusium created by receptacle surrounded by a ring of narrow setiferous scales.



cooperi: named after Sir Daniel Cooper (1821-1902), Australian politician.


Roadside banks in forest margin, full sun along streams.

Distribution worldwide

Originally from Australia, naturalised in Africa, serious weed in Hawaii.

Distribution in Africa

South Africa, Tanzania .

Growth form



  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature. Pages 274 - 275. (Includes a picture).
  • Edwards, Peter J. (2005) Cyatheaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Page 6.
  • 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 67. As Sphaeropteris cooperi (Hook. ex F.Muell.) R.M.Tryon.