Australian Tree Fern or Scaly Tree Fern (Cyathea [Sphaeropteris] cooperi)


Australian Tree Fern or Scaly Tree Fern (Cyathea [Sphaeropteris] cooperi)


SHIPPING NOTE: Cyatheas cannot be shipped until all danger of frost is past both in the nursery zone and the receiving zone!

This is the most common Cyathea in the trade although it is often confused with Cyathea australis, which is also called “Australian Tree Fern”. To distinguish between the two look for round sori surround by circular indusia on C.cooperi versus round sori with no indusial cover on C. australis. The trunk of the mature cooperii will be patterned with large oval clean cut scars left by fallen fronds whereas on australis trunks the old stipe bases persist for some time after the fronds deteriorate. The stipes of cooperii are covered with two types of scales, long white scales and short, reddish-brown scales, while australis stipes are thickly covered in shining brown scales. This very handsome fast growing species (up to three feet of trunk per year under ideal growing conditions) seems to be very easy and tolerant as long as its trunk is protected from hard frost. They prefer to stay evenly moist and can collapse fronds quickly if the soil becomes too dry. If you are overwintering large container specimens indoors and don’t want to give up that favorite window in your living room, they can be placed in cool, reduced light areas, such a garage, and watered more lightly than normal until they return to brighter conditions outdoors after frost danger has passed. If necessary the top third of the fronds can be clipped off for overwintering in low light if space is a constraint, but we recommend not removing any old fronds until they completely degenerate, or until new fronds emerge from the trunk.

Cultivation Information

Frond Condition: Evergreen in frost free climates or as a houseplant; Deciduous outdoors in marginal climates and requires protection

Mature Height: 30 feet when planted in frost free USDA Zones 9 and 10 with trunks to 20-30', with 6" diameter, fronds to 15'. In marginal climates, or when kept in containers or as a houseplant expect slower growth and a more modest height of 4-10’ with 5’ fronds.

Origin: Australia

Cultural Requirements: Part Sun to Part Shade, Full Shade, Evenly Moist

USDA Zones: 8 (with frost protection) 9, 10 or as a houseplant

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