Dicksonia antarctica

Dicksonia antarctica

''Dicksonia antarctica'' is a species of evergreen tree fern native to eastern Australia, ranging from south-east Queensland, coastal New South Wales and Victoria to Tasmania.
Dicksonia Antarctica tree fern.  Australia,Dicksonia antarctica,Geotagged

Appearance

These ferns can grow to 15 m in height, but more typically grow to about 4.5–5 m , and consist of an erect rhizome forming a trunk. They are very hairy at the base of the stipe . The large, dark green, roughly-textured fronds spread in a canopy of 2–6 m in diameter. The shapes of the stems vary as some grow curved and there are multi-headed ones. The fronds are borne in flushes, with fertile and sterile fronds often in alternating layers.

The "trunk" of this fern is merely the decaying remains of earlier growth of the plant and forms a medium through which the roots grow. The trunk is usually solitary, without runners, but may produce offsets. They can be cut down and, if they are kept moist, the top portions can be replanted and will form new roots. The stump, however, will not regenerate since it is dead organic matter. In nature, the fibrous trunks are hosts for a range of epiphytic plants including other ferns and mosses.

The fern grows at 3.5 to 5 cm per year and produces spores at the age of about 20 years.

Behavior

These ferns can grow to 15 m in height, but more typically grow to about 4.5–5 m , and consist of an erect rhizome forming a trunk. They are very hairy at the base of the stipe . The large, dark green, roughly-textured fronds spread in a canopy of 2–6 m in diameter. The shapes of the stems vary as some grow curved and there are multi-headed ones. The fronds are borne in flushes, with fertile and sterile fronds often in alternating layers.

The "trunk" of this fern is merely the decaying remains of earlier growth of the plant and forms a medium through which the roots grow. The trunk is usually solitary, without runners, but may produce offsets. They can be cut down and, if they are kept moist, the top portions can be replanted and will form new roots. The stump, however, will not regenerate since it is dead organic matter. In nature, the fibrous trunks are hosts for a range of epiphytic plants including other ferns and mosses.

The fern grows at 3.5 to 5 cm per year and produces spores at the age of about 20 years.

Habitat

The fern grows on damp, sheltered woodland slopes and moist gullies, and they occasionally occur at high altitudes in cloud forests. ''Dicksonia antarctica'' is the most abundant tree fern in South Eastern Australia.

The plant can grow in acid, neutral and alkaline soils. It can grow in semi-shade. It strongly resents drought or dryness at the roots, and does best in moist soil.

Reproduction

Reproduction by this species is primarily from spores, but it can also be grown from plantlets occurring around the base of the rhizome.

In cultivation, it can also be grown as a "cutting", a method not to be encouraged unless the tree-fern is doomed to die in its present position. This involves sawing the trunk through, usually at ground level, and removing the fronds; the top part will form roots and regrow, but the base will die.

Defense

Large ''Dicksonia antarctica'' available for sale come from old growth Tasmanian forests, and may be hundreds of years old. The trunks are also available legally from local suppliers who licence collection of minor species from Forestry Tasmania, the State Government GBE who manage forestry.

References:

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Taxonomy
KingdomPlantae
DivisionPolypodiophyta
ClassPolypodiopsida
OrderCyatheales
FamilyDicksoniaceae
GenusDicksonia
SpeciesD. antarctica
Photographed in
Australia