Cyathea affinis

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Cyathea affinis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Pteridopsida
Order: Cyatheales
Family: Cyatheaceae
Genus: Cyathea
Subgenus: Cyathea
Section: Alsophila
Species: C. affinis
Binomial name
Cyathea affinis
(J. R. Forster) Swartz, 1801
Synonyms
  • Polypodium affine J. R. Forster, 1786
  • Cyathea bisulca Schkuhr, 1809
  • Alsophila tahitensis Brackenridge, 1854
  • Cyathea tahitensis (Brackenridge) Domin, 1929
  • Cyathea rapaensis Copeland, 1938

Cyathea affinis is a variable species of tree fern native to Fiji, Samoa, the Cook Islands, Austral Islands, Tahiti, and the Marquesas Islands. The trunk of this plant is erect and 2-6 m tall. Fronds are bipinnate and 2-3 m in length. The rachis and stipe are pale to brown in colour, or flushed with red towards the pinnule rachis. The stipe is sparsely covered in narrow basal scales, which are pale to dark and have broad fragile edges. Characteristically of this species, the lowest one or two pairs of pinnae may be slightly reduced and occur towards the base of the stipe. Sori are located near the pinnule midvein and are partially or fully covered by indusia, which open towards the pinnule margin.

Braggins and Large (2004) note that there is much variation between individual plants of C. affinis in terms of frond and scale details and Cyathea tahitensis, which is usually regarded as synonymous, may in fact represent a separate species. The closest relatives of C. affinis appear to be Cyathea plagiostegia and Cyathea solomonensis. This species differs from the former in its slightly larger size and larger indusia.

C. affinis is not to be confused with Cyathea affinis (W. J. Hooker & Baker, 1874), a synonym of Cyathea medullaris, nor Cyathea affinis (Brackenridge, 1854), a synonym of Cyathea propinqua. Cyathea affinis (M. Martens & Galeotti, 1842) also shares its name with this taxon, but cannot be attributed to any species.

Young shoots of C. affinis are eaten in the Marquesas Islands.

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