Tree ferns

La Lagune

Tree ferns

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This impressive plant features a combination of slender stems, overshadowed by deep green foliage that can grow up to a metre long. These plants are already cultivated in Europe, where there are three different types available, but such measurements are rarely achieved. Dicksonia antartica are 400 to 500 years old. In South Australia and Tasmania the elders betray their age by the diameter of their stem, which can grow up to 1 m thick. The stem is in proportion to the size of the plant and its considerable weight is due to its ability to retain large volumes of water. The species is highly protected and under normal conditions there is an absolute ban on exports, as is also the case for the 2 other species, Cyathea dealbata (the underside of the leaf is white) and Cyathea medullaris, which is finer and larger and native to New Zealand.

Through a combination of circumstances Pairi Daiza was unexpectedly given the chance to import the plants, despite their protected status, as they had to make way for the construction of a motorway. The transaction saved the tree ferns and boosted the coffers of a local conservation fund.

The ferns are vivace in the green crown portion and only the spray provides the water required. The stems are also huge and the water table is very high, so a walkway stabilises the swampy ground and these plants with their limited root systems.

The transport of 700 tree ferns required the utmost care of every tiny part of its vital requirements. The journey from Tasmania took place in containers with a constant temperature of 8°C, and once they arrived in the Netherlands a specialist team ensured that the plants could reacclimatise and return to full strength. Planting them on the terrain of Pairi Daiza was a new challenge given the need for a removable winter conservatory, which was a brand new concept.

Tree ferns in image

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