Apart from Asplenium this is the largest genus of ferns, with over
600 species scattered through humid tropical and subtropical regions
of the world.
Some botanists have split off large groups of species into separate
genera, notably Alsophila and Sphaeropteris, but most fern experts
no longer agree with this.
Cyathea species vary greatly in size, but most are single-stemmed
with a trunk that may be as much as 50 ft (15 m) tall and an
umbrella-like crown of very large fronds.
The frond bases are usually covered in hairs or chaffy scales and
may be quite prickly as well; they often persist on the trunk but
even after they decay completely their scars make an interesting
pattern on the trunk.
Cultivation: In warm-climate gardens few plants create such dramatic
effects as these tree ferns, some of which are quite fast-growing
under ideal conditions.
They prefer a humid atmosphere, part-shade, and a moist, humus-rich
soil. In warm weather they need plentiful watering and may need
frequent mist-spraying during hot dry spells.
When young many species make attractive indoor plants if a suitably
humid environment can be maintained. Propagate by spores
.Established plants must be transplanted with care.
Edible Parts: The young leaves and the soft inner portion of
the trunk are edible. Boil the young leaves and eat as greens. Eat
the inner portion of the trunk raw or bake it.