Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Dicksonia squarrosa

Dicksonia squarrosa (G.Forst.) Sw.
Swartz, O. [P.] (1801) Journal fur die Botanik (Schrader) 2: 90 [comb. nov.]

The last man standing. Sole surviving specimen of its species at Monserrate. The Dicksonia squarrosa is very sensitive to drying out. Unlike other Dicksonias it has a slender unprotected trunk. In its natural habitat it grows in swampy ground; added to which it rains every day. There used to be great clumps of this tree fern at Monserrate. One unusual characteristic of the fern is its ability to sprout from dormant buds along the trunk giving rise to its branched habit.

Known as the Rough Tree Fern (the fronds are very harsh to touch, squarrosa means rough and scurfy) or the Maori "Weki". Can grow to 7m, but there are none in Sintra of such size. Branches freely from aerial buds. It is considered to be the fastest growing of the New Zealand Tree Ferns.

New Zealand :- Three Kings Islands, North Island, South Island, Stewart Islands, and Chatam Islands.

Introduced to Kew Gardens by J. Edgerly in 1842. He also introduced Cyathea medullaris at the same time. Edgerly was a gardener who had travelled to New Zealand with the idea of making profitable plant introductions. Hebe speciosa was also introduced by him. He was of low regard to professional botanist who regarded his commercial stance with great suspision. Considered a warm greenhouse species at that time. In 1867 E. J. Lowe reports that this fern was known to grow to ten feet high or more and that fronds could reach ten to fifteen feet. This fern was also grown at the Royal Gardens of Windsor. Veitch offered them for sale at his Exotic Nursery, at Chelsea.

Synonyms :
Trichomanes squarrosum G. Forster 1786

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