Dicksonia antarctica

Source: Own work

Dicksonia antarctica
Pairi Daiza

Dicksonia antarctica or Australian tree fern is a pretty hardy tree fern.

This is a very good plant for a shady spot.

It is a fossil plant from the Jurassic period.


Dicksonia antarctica is a slow growing tree fern. The stipe is quite thick and 2-12 m high. It consists of vegetable growth residues, the roots grow through it. It can accommodate other plants, such as ferns, mosses and epiphyts. The stipe may be straight or curved. In its habitat it can grow up to 15 m but in culture it will rarely be over 2-3 m.

The numerous leaves spread out over 2 to 6 m. Generally a layer of sterile leaves alternates with a layer of fertile leaves.

This tree fern grows annually between 1 and 10 cm and is mature when it is about 23 years old.


  • Ornamental
  • Food: the pith of the core of the stem is rich in starch and was once used as food by Tasmanian Aborigines. The curled young leaves are also edible, but have a slimy, sometimes bitter taste.
  • The trunks are often used as a medium for growing epiphytes such as orchids.
  • Trunks can also be used for fencing.


Common names:

Australian Tree Fern, Australian Tree fern, Man Fern, Soft Tree Fern, Tasmanian Tree Fern, Woolly Tree Fern


Balantium antarcticum


Dicksonia: honoring James Dickson (1738-1822), a Scottish breeder
Antarctica: from Greek ant- (opposite) and arktikós (north)


South-east of Australia, Tasmania


Humid forests, undergrowth, intertidal zone


USDA zone 8-10
The fronds die at -5 °C

Dicksonia antarctica frond

Source: Own work

Dicksonia antarctica frond
Pairi Daiza



Acid, neutral or alkaline


Shade, partial shade
Ideally: sun in the morning and evening


The roots grow through the stipe, water the top of the plant so that the whole trunk is moist. Tolerates drought but will grow better if it is kept moist, especially the first few years. Once the plant is well established and the roots are stuck in the substrate watering will no longer be needed.


Provide universal fertilizer at the start of the growing season.


Spores, small plants growing at the foot of the stipe

Sowing instructions:

Ferns have a particular reproductive system: spores germinate and produce a male or female prothallum after a few weeks. This prothallum looks like a wilted leaf, do not throw the pot away! Fecundation occurs through streaming water and after a few months the first true fern frond will appear.