Lacy Tree Fern

Sphaeropteris cooperi – Lacy tree fern

Synonyms: formerly Cyathea cooperi

Morphology/Plant Growth

Foreground: Monkey puzzle tree, background: lacy tree fern
Lacy Tree fern is in the pot behind the tree.

Lacy tree fern is a very large fern that is often mistaken for a tree because of its height (which gives it its common name). The trunk (bottoms of the fern frond) grows about 3-6 inches thick and can grow up to 30 feet tall. The fern blade (green leafy part) can reach up to 8 feet long. If kept in a pot, these measurements are often restrained. While it looks like one frond has many leaves, biologically, one fern leaf starts at the base (at the ground) and goes all the way through the blade to the tip. What appears to be many leaves are still part of the one leaf and called leaflets. The new uncurling frond is called a fiddlehead or crozier (staff hook – like for tending sheep).


East coast tropical lowlands of Australia


Thrives is high humidity and moist soils. Excels in dappled shade to partial sun.


Ferns do not reproduce with seeds (like conifers and flowering plants). They use spore – look at the yellowish-brown dots on the underside of the leaf/frond. This species does not propagate vegetatively or by spreading.

Human Uses

This plant is cultivated worldwide as a show piece for gardens.


This article was written by Sarah Verlinde. For questions regarding the UWB/CC Plant Tour, contact Sarah at