Tree ferns

In my last post Animal or vegetable, the “tree” that was featured is in fact not a tree, but a tree fern.

This tree fern is growing next to a 7-feet garden wall - which gives you some idea of the size of the plant. ©LB/

According to Wikipedia:

Some species in the Cyatheales have tree-like growth forms, but others have creeping rhizomes (stems). Some species have scales on the stems and leaves, while others have hairs. However, most plants in the Cyatheales are tree ferns and have trunk-like stems up to 20 meters tall.

Tree ferns are found growing in tropical and subtropical areas as well as temperate rainforests in Australia, New Zealand, and other island groups nearby; a few genera extend further, such as Culcita in southern Europe. Like all ferns, tree ferns reproduce by means of spores developed in sporangia on the undersides of the fronds.

The fronds of tree ferns are usually very large and multiple-pinnate but at least one type has entire (undivided) fronds. The fronds of tree ferns also exhibit circinate vernation, meaning the young fronds emerge in coils that uncurl as they grow.Unlike flowering plants, tree ferns do not form new woody tissue in their trunk as they grow. Rather, the trunk is supported by a fibrous mass of roots that expands as the tree fern grows.

New Tree Fern fronds developing ©LB/

Young Tree Fern fronds (also known as "fiddleheads") unfurling ©LB/

We have several of these tree ferns growing in our garden next to our garden walls. The high walls provide shelter from the sun and the wind, as well as a moister environment.

The tree fern in this photograph (the one from my previous post), had been growing under the roof and once it hit the bottom of the roof overhang, it grew sideways. We've since transplanted it, but it's still growing skew. ©LB/

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Categories: Nature/Environment


I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at and (my photoblog)


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10 Comments on “Tree ferns”

  1. Sarita Botha
    December 7, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    I forgot how big the one’s in your garden are. Btw your garden is really pretty at the moment.

    • December 8, 2011 at 7:54 am #

      They have grown a lot since we moved in, haven’t they? The local gardens are doing really well lately – we’ve been getting pretty regular rain this year.

  2. December 7, 2011 at 9:31 am #

    I love tree ferns. There’s a lovely one here at the Lucky 5 Star.

    • December 8, 2011 at 7:55 am #

      I like them too. Pretty unusual to have them as garden plants – they look more like they belong in a forest or jungle. As Jacquelin says below, like a scene from Jurassic Park.

  3. December 7, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    Fascinating, Lisa. I love your garden!

  4. jacquelincangro
    December 7, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

    Those ferns look like they could be right out of Jurassic Park!

    • December 8, 2011 at 8:10 am #

      I actually remember seeing tree ferns in Jurassic Park. They date back many thousands of years.

  5. December 7, 2011 at 11:29 pm #

    Lisa, that fern would look great in my living room. continue…

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