Cyathea bryophila

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Cyathea bryophila
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Pteridopsida
Order: Cyatheales
Family: Cyatheaceae
Genus: Cyathea
Subgenus: Cyathea
Section: Alsophila
Species: C. bryophila
Binomial name
Cyathea bryophila
(Tryon) Proctor, 1989
Synonyms
  • Alsophila bryophila Tryon, 1972

Cyathea bryophila is a species of tree fern native to Puerto Rico, where it grows in the understory in wet montane and mossy forest at an altitude of 750-1200 m. The trunk is erect, up to 7 m tall and about 10 cm in diameter. Fronds are pinnate or bipinnate and grow to 2 m in length. The underside of the rachis is pubescent and has occasional scales towards the base. The scales range in colour from brown to bicoloured (pale with brown margins). Sori occur along each side of the pinnule midvein and are covered by scale-like indusia. C. bryophila is a slow growing species, reportedly only increasing in trunk height by 5 cm a year, a growth rate more akin to that of Dicksonia species. It has been estimated that plants may live in excess of 150 years.

The closest relatives of C. bryophila appear to be Cyathea brooksii, Cyathea hotteana and Cyathea minor. In the wild, it is known to hybridise with Cyathea amintae and Cyathea portoricensis. With the former, it forms the fertile hybrid Cyathea × dryopteroides.

The specific epithet bryophila, meaning "bryophyte loving", refers to the fact that this species is commonly encountered in mossy forest.

C. bryophila may be cultivated, although it requires consistently cool and moist conditions to do well. It is apparently more susceptible to insect damage than most other species. In the horticultural trade, C. bryophila is often erroneously called Cyathea pubescens, although this is an unrelated species.

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