Native to Australia and Tasmania, Soft Tree Fern trunks are often used by epiphytes like orchids and mosses. The fronds, especially on mature specimens, create a gigantic canopy (albeit rarely) up to 6 meters (20 feet) across. The fronds are deeply-divded and arch
dramatically around the crown.
Dicksonia antarctica (Soft Tree Fern, Tasmanian/Australian Tree Fern, Woolly Tree Fern)
Deciduous: evergreen in warm climates, deciduous in colder climates
Hardiness Zones: 9-10
Height: 6.0-9.5 meters (20-30 feet) tall outdoors, grows no more than 18 feet tall and 8 feet wide indoors
Diameter: The trunk reaches 30-70 centimeters (12-28 inches) wide. The canopy of fronds may extend up to 6 meters (20 feet) in diameter, although this is very rare.
Growth Rate: slow, no more than 30 centimeters (12 inches) per year at maximum
Age: lives up to 150 years old, achieves maximum height by 50 years old usually
Root System: fibrous
Tolerates: rabbits, heavy shade, no serious pest or disease problems, light frosts (rarely)
Problems (major): Heavy frosts are typically fatal; dry soils and drenched soils are both very detrimental.
Problems (minor): Occasional problems include spider mites and root rot. In arid climates, the trunk should be thoroughly watered (avoid directly watering the crown).
Poisonous: no known toxins, although many ferns contain carcinogens (ferns also tned to have thiaminase, a protein that harms the body’s Vitamin B complex – in large enough quantities, this can be harmful to injest)
Soil requirements: Soft Tree Ferns require medium to wet soil, well-drained, loam or sand, very acidic or neutral pH. Humusy, consistently moist soils are optimal. For indoor soils, use potting mixture w/ bark, loam, sand, and leaf mold.
Air Requirements: requires high humidity and the least amount of wind possible
Watering requirement: Keep the soil consistently moist or wet; avoid overwatering.
Sun requirement: part-shade to full shade
Leaf shape: fronds, deeply-divided, arching, large
Leaf size: The dark-green foliage can reach a maximum of 3 meters (10 feet) long. The fronds are enormous.
Flower structure: reproduces by spores
Flowering frequency: not applicable
The Soft Tree Fern is the cold hardiest of all the tree ferns. The trunk ranges from a reddish-brown to a black color.
In select region, this can be grown as a magnificnet ornamental. This can be a potential tree supplement in select regions, although the growth is quite slow.
- SelecTree. “Dicksonia antarctica Tree Record.” 1995-2014. Apr 16, 2014.< http://selectree.calpoly.edu/treedetail.lasso?rid=488 > (http://selectree.calpoly.edu/treedetail.lasso?rid=488)
- A fairly small Soft Tree Fern in England (Adrian Pingstone on 7 September 2003)
A juvenile Soft Tree Fern at Koishikawa Botanical Gardens, Tokyo, Japan (uploaded 26 January 2008)
A Soft Tree Fern at the Palm House in Kew Gardens (4 April 2007)
The bottom portion of a frond with dozens of spores visible (17 May 2005)
I do not own the rights of these images; all credit goes to its original creator(s).
All of the last 8 images provided were taken by me (the last taken by Ben E.). They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.