Field Allotments at Amerton
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
And Other Climbing Plants.
Alan J Hartley
There are over 700
Species of Tree Ferns that come from, cool and temperate regions, to the
tropical rainforests in the warmer parts of America, Asia, Australia and
New Zealand and their neighbouring islands. Indeed Tree Ferns can be
found growing almost worldwide, although of course they are not really
“Trees,” at all. They get their name from the fact that not only do some
grow to Tree like proportions as high as 20 metres, but they do often
have what looks like a straight, upright, single, Trunk, although this
is in fact an erect Rhizome and for the most part is dead organic
The popular “Dicksonia Antarctica,” is Native to eastern Australia and
is really an evergreen, but because it needs Winter protection here in
the UK it enters a period of dormancy as it gets colder in the late
Autumn. Some Tree Ferns will stand a few degrees of frost, but it is
common practice to bring them into shelter for Winter, or in milder
parts, to cut back the Fronds a little and wrap the top part of the
plant in insulating material to protect it from the cold and wet.
Typically, Tree Ferns only grow about 1 inch a year and can live a long
time. It is said that one Fern in Australia is over 500 years old, but
many plantations have been decimated in recent years. Dicksonia prefers
slightly acidic conditions, but above all prefers some shade and most
importantly moist, humid conditions. It can grow up to 15m and its
fronds can be up to 10 feet long. The “Pith,” of this “Soft Tree Fern,”
to give it another name, was once eaten raw, or cooked, by Aboriginals.
They split the top part of the trunks and ate the starch filled rich
central material. However, early English explorers said it was too
bitter for English tastes.
Another popular Tree Fern is the “Smooth Tree Fern,” or Norfolk Tree
Fern, that comes from Norfolk Island off the coast of Australia. This
Fern called “Sphaeropteris Excelsa,” or “Cyathea Brownii,” which is one
of the larger Tree Ferns, can grow up to 20 metres and may be considered
poisonous if eaten by humans.
Here in the UK Tree Ferns are generally considered to be pest and
Propagation can be done by germinating spores that will be created by
plants that are some 20 years, or more, old. The Trunks themselves will
not root if cut up, but branches, or offsets may be separated and
rooted. The lower part of the trunks are just dead organic matter.