Cyathea dregei, the common South African tree fern may grow to 5 m with arching pale green fronds clustered at the top of an erect, dark-brown stem. The sturdy stem seldom branches. It is usually covered in brown scales and old leaf bases.
The fronds, the main attraction, may reach 3 m in length with tripinnate structure. The leaf stalks are smooth, the leaflet margins entire. Leaflets may be hairless or have sparse, rusty, hair-like scales which tend to fall off easily. Spores are produced in sori positioned along the veins on the under-surfaces of the leaflets. Sori are clusters of sporangia, structures found on fern fronds that produce and contain the spores. Their shapes often give clues for identifying fern species.
The tree fern has become a sought after garden plant. But before planting one, consider whether your garden has the moisture, a protected spot with partial sunlight out of the way of big winds, a conducive temperature range with no frost, composted soil and the right neighbouring plants to keep it company. There should be good drainage and ample mulch of organic material (Coates Palgrave, 2002; Wikipedia).
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