Plants of the Castlemaine District

Soft Tree-fern - native (Dicksonia antarctica)

Rough Tree-fern- native (Cyathea australis)

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Family: Dicksoniaceae and Cyatheaceae.


Occurrence: Rare.

It is remarkable that tree-ferns should be present in the district. It is even more remarkable that two species have been recorded.

The first Church of England church service in the Forest Creek goldfields was conducted in the shade of a large tree fern growing on the banks of Forest Creek at Chewton.

Until recently (1980s) tree ferns were present on Mt Alexander, in a gully north of Mt Alexander, and in some of the creek valleys in Barkers Creek. Some were also growing close to the Pyrenees Highway at Elphinstone, watered by a leak in the water channel. Most of these have disappeared, either through drought or illegal removal. Sometimes in the past, the local tree ferns have been listed as "Tree Fern", without specifying the species, and so there is doubt now about their actual identity.

Soft Tree-fern (Dicksonia antarctica). Fronds taper markedly towards the base. Trunks often covered with fine matted hairs.
Rough Tree-fern (Cyathea australis). Fronds broadly triangular, not tapering towards the base. Upper trunk with frond bases, lower trunk with fine matted hairs.

Name. Dicksonia: named after an English botanist; antarcticus: southern.

1. Soft Tree-fern. Whisky Gully. 2, 4: Rough Tree Fern, north of Mt Alexander. 3: Rough Tree-fern. Elphinstone. A water fern is in the bottom right corner.