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The Exotic Rainforest
Plants in the Exotic Rainforest Collection

Cyathea cooperi (F. Muell.) Domin

Cyathea cooperi (F. Muell.) Domin

Australian Fern Tree, Lacy Tree Fern,
Queensland Tree Fern

Cyathea cooperi (sigh-A-the-ah  COOP-er-eye) is a spectacularly large fern.  The largest we have personally seen is planted next to one of the many waterfalls at the Falls Shopping Center in the southern part of Miami, FL.  The last time we saw the plant in 2000 it was close to eight feet (2.5 meters) tall.  But our specimen is not getting close at just over six feet (almost 2 meters).

Despite recommendations by many "experts", that particular plant at the Falls is planted in full sunlight!  But it gets a lot of mist and moisture from the falls which are near its base.  Cyathea cooperi is sometimes known as the Queensland Tree Fern, the Lacy Tree Fern, and more commonly the Australian Tree Fern.  Botanically, C. cooperi is native to New Zealand and is considered endemic (exclusively found in).  But Cyathea cooperi is often found growing in Australia as well and was apparently imported into the country.  The species grows in very wet growing conditions in New Zealand including swamps and boggs.  It commonly grows along the coast of Queensland and New South Wales in the country of Australia. This tree fern can reach up to 30 feet (almost 10 meters) in its native habitat, but is rarely seen in cultivation larger than 8 (2.5 meters) feet.  The fronds of Cyathea cooperi can also be 8 feet (2.5 meters) but will always be smaller when grown in a container. 

Several web sites indicate C. cooperi can be neglected and still survive well.  The fern is also said to be frost hardy, however we know a large number of growers who have given up on trying to keep the plant alive even in semi-tropical conditions!  Some nurseries in Florida have lost their entire crop without any known reason other than likely heat.  And we too have noticed it decline when the weather is constantly above 85 degrees F.  Ours' lives at the top of the waterfall and is healthy, but two Septembers in a row the plant has died back to the point we thought it was lost.  As a result, we attempt to water it more than any other plant in the atrium due to the advice of knowledgeable growers who say it requires large amounts of water.  During the hottest portion of each summer, we now water this specimen daily.

C. cooperi requires very well drained soil and in most cases bright filtered light.