Dean M. Chriss
Tree Fern Forest, Great Otway National Park, Australia

Tree Fern Forest, Great Otway National Park, Victoria, Australia

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The dense forest of tree-ferns shown here is a sheltered and quiet place. This forest grows in a temperate climate, in a deep gully near Australia's rocky southern coast. There are more than 800 species of tree fern in the world, but the vast majority grow in warmer tropical climates. The two tree-fern species found here are the soft tree-fern (Dicksonia antarctica) shown in the far right foreground, and the slender tree-fern (Cyathea cunninghamii) seen in the left side of the image. These species require coolness, moisture, shade and shelter from wind, so in the wild they typically inhabit only shady gullies and stream banks.

Tree-ferns are true ferns, not trees. They reproduce from spores rather than seeds. All ferns have a rhizome from which the fronds emerge. A tree fern is simply a fern in which rhizome is very long and strong enough to support itself.