‘Flying Spider-monkey Tree Fern’
Common names for Cyathea lepifera include the ‘Flying Spider-monkey Tree Fern’ the species gets this name from the likeness of the mammal to the uncurling of new fronds looking like monkey arms.
Cyathea lepifera is native to Southern China, New Guinea, Taiwan and the Philippines. The ‘Flying Spider-monkey Tree Fern’ is found growing in montane forest at relatively high altitudes between 2000-3000ft. Cyathea lepifera will tolerate full sun light as the climate is generally cooler and the fronds will rarely scorch.
Due to its high attitude habitat Cyathea lepifera is found in cooler areas where the temperature range is typically between 5°C (41°F) and 28°C (82°F). The altitude the species grows at would experience light overnight frosts of a degree or two for short periods of time.
Cyathea lepifera is an elegant species of fern with pale sandy coloured scales retained on trunk and stipes. The trunk is also very attractive as fallen fronds or stipe bases leave prominent oval scars giving the trunk a wonderful symmetrical pattern as can be seen in the photograph below.
The species is also relatively fast growing and can reach heights of up to 6m (20ft) in height; with fronds reaching around 2m (7ft) in length.
Outside of the subtropics Cyathea lepifera is rarely cultivated a its requirement for a warm, moist and humid environment is difficult to artificially replicate. It is a fern worth trying for those who can create these conditions with orchid houses making the ideal home. If trying this fern one of the key requirements is to keep the roots in a well-drained but moist soil. Given the ideal growing conditions plants can grow a trunk of 6-8ft from spore within 6 or 7 years.
Family Name: Cyatheaceae.
Common Names: Flying Spider-monkey Tree Fern
Position: Sheltered from drying winds.
Soil: Humus-rich, neutral to acid soil.
Growth Rate: Fast.
Eventual spread: 4m.
Max Height: 6m.
Hardiness: Sub-tropical – this species will only tolerate a short frost of a degree or two
Growing tips: Keep roots moist but not saturated in a humid environment
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