Trunk to 12 m or so tall and to 15 cm wide, the frond bases shed to leave smooth oval scars. Fronds up to 6 m long, divided 3 times. Stalks brown with pointed warting and long, pale scales mixed with less conspicuous narrow, red-brown scales. Sori round. Indusia formed of a ring of scales. Will tolerate cool conditions.
Probably the most popular tree fern in cultivation in Australia. Near Sydney it has shown the potential to become a bushland weed in some gully areas.
Tropical and subtropical Australia.
Trunk bare of frond bases which leave clean scars when shed; scales whitish; frond stalk bases brown.
Cyathea brownii Domin (C. excelsa Sw., Sphaeropteris excelsa (Sw.) R.M. Tryon) from Norfolk I. differs in generally being a more robust, wider-trunked fern with more leathery fronds and, in general, larger, pale brown (not whitish) scales at the base of the stalk as well as having scales of the main branches with long, thin, marginal hairs. This distinction between these closely related island and mainland species does not appear to stand up clearly in cultivated material and intermediates (possibly hybrids) may be found as, for example, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne. Cultivars, possibly hybrids, for example 'Brentwood', are available with scales differing in their size, quantity and colour (which varies from ginger to almost black).
Source: (1995). Cyatheaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 1, Ferns, conifers & their allies. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.