Dicksonia squarrosa is a tree fern partly named in honour of the British botanist James Dickson (1738-1822), while squarrosa means ‘having scales’. It is called brown tree fern or ‘Wheki’ by the Maori. The plant is also often referred to as ‘Slender Tree Fern’ because of its comparatively slim trunk.
The slender brownish-black trunk can grow up to 7 metres high and is set off by a canopy of fronds which can, in the right conditions, grow to a length of up to 2.4 metres. Often the plant will develop a skirt of dead leaves towards the tip of the trunk which, while considered as unattractive by some, plays a vital role in retaining moisture.
The plant is from New Zealand where it continues to be the most common fern that grows in the wild. More specifically, the plant is found in abundance in the northern and southern islands such as Stewart Island and the Chatham Islands, while it tends to prefer a habitat of coastal, montane forests.
Dicksonia squarrosa is best kept as a conservatory plant in the UK, and is generally available in a variety of sizes from 1ft/30cm to 6ft/180cm. However, the plant should never be purchased in a bare-rooted trunk, as this will seriously reduce the plant’s chances of survival.
Dicksonia squarrosa is a member of the Squarrosa species that has the family name of Dicksoniaceae. It belongs to the Dicksonia genus, which contains between 20 and 25 species in total.
The most important part of caring for this plant is water. Indeed, during the heights of summer the plant should be watered at least twice a day, in the morning and late evening. In addition, the plant is best kept in a cool place (minimum temperature 10 degrees C) while the area should be brightly lit (though not in direct sunlight) and high in humidity.
Did You Know?
The whole of the Dicksonia genus are highly regarded within the area of interior design. They are, in fact, extremely popular in large indoor areas such as shopping centres. Their general adaptability, due largely to their ability to absorb water through the trunk, also adds to their popularity.