Dicksonia antarctica Tasmanian tree fern

Epithet means "from Antarctic regions," a bit of a stretch. Evergreen, 15 to 20 ft. (4.5 to 6 m). Zones 8 (with an annual winter-insulating wrap) to 10.

description: Trunks are dark brown and from 10 to 20 ft. (3 to 6 m) tall or occasionally more. Arching sprays of bipinnate to tripinnate, 6- to 12-ft. (1.8- to 3.6-m) fronds are on very short stipes which emerge with a fleeting fringe of long plum-colored hairs. Sori of two to six per pinnule are in cups under hooded edges of the margins.

range and habitat: This species is from Tasmania as well as mainland Australia where in some areas it has been collected to extinction. In nature it enjoys the encouragement of a ferny combination of humidity and soil moisture.

culture and comments: Of all the tree ferns, this is the one species most likely to succeed away from Zones 9 and 10. it is magnificent in the wind-sheltered environments of the cool coastal belts in Scotland, southern England, and California, as well as in true tree fern climates worldwide. in Zone 8 it needs a winter life-support system in the form of an insulating enclosure or at the minimum an umbrella of frost-resistant

Exuberant young frond of Dicksonia antarctica at Wells Medina Nursery.
Dicksonia Antartica Culture
Slender new growth on Dicksonia antarctica.
Dicksonia fibrosa in New Zealand. Note the skirt of old fronds.

horticultural gauze. The easiest insurance is to grow it in a sizable but transportable pot. Some day, however, like children, it will outgrow its nest and need to be on its own. Plants with a trunk of at least 2 ft. (60 cm) are more cold resistant and better prepared for a year-round location in the garden. Do, however, safeguard the trunks from winter's extremes and give the crown a pillow of insulation. Some growers enclose the fronds in burlap or other loose clothing. The choice is unimportant so long as the fronds can "breathe." Do not use plastic or clear material that would magnify the sun's rays and scorch the fronds you are trying to protect.

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