Cyathea cunninghamii

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Cyathea cunninghamii
Cyathea cunninghamii.jpg
Rare (NCA)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Pteridopsida
Order: Cyatheales
Family: Cyatheaceae
Genus: Cyathea
Subgenus: Cyathea
Section: Alsophila
Species: C. cunninghamii
Binomial name
Cyathea cunninghamii
J. D. Hooker, 1854
  • Alsophila cunninghamii (J. D. Hooker) Tryon, 1970
  • ?Cyathea stelligera Holttum, 1964

Cyathea cunninghamii, also known as the gully tree fern and slender tree fern, is a species of tree fern native to Victoria, New South Wales, southeastern Queensland and Tasmania in Australia, as well as North Island, South Island and Chatham Islands in New Zealand (and possibly New Caledonia also). It grows in damp forest, often emerging from stream gullies and riverbanks. The erect trunk may be 20 m tall and is usually 6-15 cm in diameter, occasionally as much as 20 cm. Fronds are tri- to tetrapinnate and 3 m or more in length. The rachis and stipe are slender, black brown, warty and covered with brown scales. Sori occur along each side of the pinnule midvein and are covered by hood-like indusia. C. cunninghamii is an uncommon and slow-growing tree fern. Great specimens occur in Tarra-Bulga National Park, Victoria.

Plants from New Caledonia known as Cyathea stelligera may represent the same species. In the wild, C. cunninghamii hybridises with Cyathea australis to form the fertile hybrid Cyathea × marcescens.

To do well in cultivation, C. cunninghamii requires much moisture. Rich humus is a good growing medium. Plants should be protected from the wind.

The specific epithet cunninghamii commemorates Allan Cunningham (1791-1839), a botanist who traveled widely in Australia and New Zealand.