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The Tasmanian tree fern is a true fern and not a tree but it has the form of a tree. It is a member of the genus Dicksonia that contains 20-25 species, distributed from Mexico to Chile, St. Helena to New Zealand and Australia and on to the Philippines.


Tasmanian tree fern, or Dicksonia antarctica, is the best known of all the tree ferns owing to its beauty, ease of cultivation and cold hardiness. In the wild it can be found growing throughout the forests of eastern Australia, Tasmania, and some sub-Antarctic islands where the temperature seldom, if ever, rises above 65° Fahrenheit.  The name "Tasmanian tree fern" is not a good one since the majority of treeferns are in Australia.

The Tasmanian tree fern is probably the largest of the Dicksonias, occasionally reaching a height of 50 feet and with a trunk that can be over two feet in diameter. In most cultivated situations however they usually grow to 10 to 12 feet, maybe more after many years. Most surprisingly however, is their life span, which has been known to exceed 400 years.

The beautiful fronds can reach eight to ten feet in length, but under optimum condition, i.e. plenty of water, the fronds will exceed 14 feet. And the crown can contain as many as 60 to 70 fronds.  The uncurling croziers are covered with soft, cinnamon-colored hairs. It has a moderate growth rate, perhaps 3 inches per year. When grown in pots the fronds will be smaller and growth slower.

It is one of the most cold-hardy of the treeferns growing successfully in the warmer areas of Britain, Ireland and the United States. It is also very adaptable to growing in shade, which is a must in really warm climates. Its general toughness also enables it to serve as a good indoor specimen. 

Tasmanian tree fern

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