Gastony, Gerald J. Department of Botany, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
Last reviewed:January 2020
- Trunks and leaves
- Scales and hairs
- Vascular system
- Fossil history
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The common name for fern plants primarily belonging to the families Cyatheaceae and Dicksoniaceae, whose members typically develop tall trunks crowned with leaves (fronds). Tree ferns exhibit a treelike (arborescent) habit (Fig. 1), often reaching 6 m (20 ft) in length and 1.5–1.8 m (5–6 ft) in width. They attain their greatest development in the rainforests and cloud forests of the mountainous tropics. Phylogenetic investigations have now assigned the tree ferns to the order Cyatheales. Although traditional classifications strictly defined the tree ferns as being members of the Cyatheaceae and Dicksoniaceae, taxonomic revisions have expanded the scope of this category, including members of a number of other families (Cibotiaceae, Culcitaceae, Loxsomataceae, Metaxyaceae, Plagiogyriaceae, and Thyrsopteridaceae). See also: Plant phylogeny; Plant taxonomy; Polypodiophyta; Polypodiopsida; Rainforest; Tree
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