T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Cyathea colensoi (Creeping Tree Fern)

Kingdom:   Plantae
Division:    Pteridophyta
Class:        Pteridopsida
Order:       Cyatheales
Family:      Cyatheaceae
Genus:      Cyathea
Subgenus:  Cyathea
Section:     Alsophila
Species:     C. colensoi
Binomial name: Cyathea colensoi
Synonyms: Alsophila colensoi
Common name: Creeping Tree Fern, Mountain Tree Fern, Golden Tree Fern

Cyathea colensoi is a species of prostrate tree fern native to New Zealand. It grows in Auckland, Volcanic Plateau, Gisborne, Taranaki and southern NorthIsland. In the South Island from West Nelson, North East Picton, Westland, Canterbury, Otago, Southland, Fiordland and Stewart Island. It grows at 400 m to 1100 m.a.s.l in damp areas in montane forests and occasionally on road cuttings or under scrub.
It is a small tree fern with upright, 3-pinnate fronds up to 1.5 m long. The dead fronds fall off (not persistent).
The trunk is usually prostrate, but may sometimes be erect, up to 1 m in height. This fern can form thickets with no sign of trunks.
Cyathea colensoi is the only species of the fern genus in New Zealand that produces fertile fronds from a prostrate rhizome. The rachis and stipe are slender, pale brown and are covered with brown scales. Sori occur in two rows, one along each side of the fertile pinnule mid vein. Cyathea colensoi is also the only native species that lacks an indusium (thin membrane covering the sorus). Sporangia arranged in small round hairy clusters underneath fronds. The conspicuous hairs in the sorus (cluster of sporangia) are longer than the sporangia.