Common names for Cyathea latebrosa include ‘Paku’ which in Malay simply means tree fern.
Cyathea latebrosa can be found across South-East Asia including Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo and Indonesia. The species is found growing at altitudes from sea level to around 1700m. The species is considered closely related to Cyathea incisoserrata.
Cyathea latebrosa can grow a trunk of up to 4m (13ft) with fronds reaching around 2m (7ft) in length. The stipe bases retain spines in common with many Cyathea species. The spines can bee seen in the picture below these look quite vicious similar to Cyathea leichhardtiana. The trunks tend to be quite thin measuring 10-15cm in diameter.
In the wild plants retain old stipe bases making the fern appear quite scruffy. Some of the pictures on this page where taken in gardens where the old fronds have been removed. The picture below shows Cyathea latebrosa in its natural habitat by a stream in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia with a scruffy appearance.
In Malaysia the species is widespread and is found growing around rubber plantations where land clearance has occurred and the fern is quick to re-establish. Cyathea latebrosa enjoys warm humid conditions and will tolerate full sunlight. It is unlikely that this fern would tolerate frost.
Outside of the subtropics Cyathea latebrosa is rarely cultivated as its requirement for a warm, moist and humid environment is difficult to artificially replicate. This fern will require a rich moist soil which is free draining.
Family Name: Cyatheaceae.
Common Names: Paku
Position: Warm and humid
Soil: Humus-rich, neutral to acid soil.
Growth Rate: Medium.
Eventual spread: 4m.
Max Height: 4m.
Hardiness: Tropical – Sub-tropical – this species will not tolerate frost
Growing tips: Keep roots moist but not saturated in a humid environment