Tree Fern

Cyathea australis, also known as the Rough Tree Fern, is a species of tree fern native to southeastern Queensland, New South Wales and southern Victoria in Australia, as well as Tasmania and Norfolk Island. It grows in moist shady forest, both coastal and montane, at an altitude of up to 1280 m, often in the company of Dicksonia antarctica. The massive erect trunk is usually up to 12 m tall, although specimens reaching 20 m have been reported from Queensland, Australia. Fronds are bi- or tripinnate and may reach 4 m in length, occasionally even 6 m. These form a distinctive crown that is dark green above and lighter green below. The Tree Fern has quite adventitious roots, tubercles and hair-like follicles on its ‘trunk’.

Plants growing in southern Australia, often lose their fronds by the end of winter. C. australis is a relatively hardy species and a popular landscape and container plant. Provided moisture levels remain high, it will tolerate frost and full sun, or shade in warmer regions. Although well known in its native country, this species is not common in cultivation outside of Australia.

Cyathea cooperi, also known as the Australian tree fern, lacy tree fern, scaly tree fern, or Cooper’s tree fern, is a tree fern native to Australia, in New South Wales and Queensland. Cyathea cooperi is a medium-to-large fast growing tree fern, to 15 metres (49 ft) in height with a 12-inch (30 cm) thick trunk. The apex of the trunk and unfurling crosiers are particularly attractive, covered as they are with conspicuous long, silky, straw coloured scales. The crown is widely spread and the light green fronds may reach a length of 4–6 metres (13–20 ft).

Cyathea cooper is one of the most commonly cultivated tree ferns as an ornamental plant. It is used in gardens and public landscaping. It is hardy and easy to grow. Heavy frosts may kill the fronds, but plants recover quickly. The plant prefers protected, shady moist conditions but can be grown in sunny areas. It does not do well in full sun and must be well watered. It is sometimes mislabeled in the nursery industry as Cyathea australis.

Dicksonia antarctica (soft tree fern, man fern) is a species of evergreen tree fern native to parts of Australia, namely south-east Queensland, coastal New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. These ferns can grow to 15 m (49 ft) in height, but more typically grow to about 4.5–5 m (15–16 ft), and consist of an erect rhizome forming a trunk. They are very hairy at the base of the stipe (trunk). The large, dark green, roughly-textured fronds spread in a canopy of 2–6 m (6 ft 7 in–19 ft 8 in) 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. Reproduction by this species is primarily from spores, but it can also be grown from plantlets occurring around the base of the rhizome.

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, but does best in moist soil.