Dicksonia antarctica

‘Hardy tree fern’

Dicksonia antarctica is the most commonly grown tree fern in colder climates. It has become very popular in the last decade with garden design programmes showcasing it as a feature plant giving your garden a tropical edge. The species gets its common name ‘Tasmanian Tree Fern’ from it’s abundance in the cool damp forests of Tasmania, the species is unique to Australia and can also be found in Victoria and New South Wales.

Carbon dating techniques have shown tree ferns date back to the Jurassic period. Tree ferns are unique instead of having a woody stem covered in a protective bark like a tree for instance, the trunks or caudex of tree ferns are composed of rhizomes modified to grow vertically. The rhizome carries nutrients to and from the fronds and roots. The trunk is covered with a dense miss-mash of roots allowing moisture to be retained. At the top of the trunk there is a growing tip which produces a number lush green of fronds which act like leaves and can grow to several metres in length.

In its native habitat Dicksonia antarctica experiences temperatures as low as -13°C (8°F). I would always encourage people growing the species where prolonged frosts occur to protect plants. Its not worth running the risk of losing your fern to the cold.