Ferns and Fern Allies in the Canberra Region

Dicksonia antarctica - Soft Tree Fern

habit Dicksonia antarctica is by far the most common tree fern in the region, accounting for over 95% of all tree ferns. It is very hardy to frost and will tolerate drought quite well. It grows in great thickets in the mountains gullies, usually along or in the creek itself, under tall Eucalypt over canopy. Notice the convex shape of the fronds viewed end-on. This is quite different from Cyathea australis, which has a flat or slightly concave frond-top. This feature is a quick way of distinguishing the two from a distance. The trunks of D. antarctica can reach 3 or 4 metres (10 to 13 feet) in height, and in isolated cases considerably more. The trunks are up to 40cm (16") across. Climbing quietly up through groves of D. antarctica can quite often lead you to the shy but exquisite Lyrebird.


This shows the "skirt" of dead fronds that hang down the trunks of Dicksonias in the wild.

detail of pinna
A close up of the pinnae. The pinnules are distinctly pointed compared to those on Cyathea australis.


A close up of the indusia (which protect the spore casings) of D. antarctica. In some plants they are twice as large as here (relative to the pinnae).

back site mapDavid Nicholls
January 1998