Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Tale of Two Ferns

My new locale in West Gippsland has brought me closer to the tall wet forests of the Baw Baw and Strzelecki Ranges. I am beginning to come to terms with a whole different set of ecosystems, habitats, and their associated flora and fauna.

Over a couple of recent days I have been visiting the beautiful Mt Worth State Park just south of Yarragon. A couple of the Mt Worth ‘friends’ are introducing me to some of the noteworthy species that can be seen within the park.

One of the first things I needed to sort out in my brain was the differences between the two principal Tree-ferns, Soft Tree-fern, (Dicksonia antarctica), and Rough Tree-fern, (Cyathea australis).

Apparently it goes like this ...

Soft Tree-fern:-
Prefers more damp situations deep in gullies, beside creeks, etc. They have fibrous or hairy trunks, the fronds are often convex in cross section and their stipes, the stalk that supports the fronds, are smooth. Soft Tree-ferns often have epiphytes of various sorts growing on them.

The 'hairy' trunk of a Soft Tree-fern.
Soft Tree-ferns plus some epiphytes.
Convex fronds of a Soft Tree-fern
Rough Tree-fern:-
Can tolerate drier places on hillsides, etc. When the old fronds drop off, the old knobbly bits of stipe remain visible on the trunk. The fronds are much flatter in cross section. The stipes themselves are rough toward the base, like sandpaper.
'Knobbly' trunk of a Rough Tree-fern.
Rough Tree-fern fronds are nearly flat in cross section.
Stipes:- Rough Tree-fern on the left, Soft Tree-fern on the right.

While all this ‘research’ was going on, I was entertained by numerous birds and I often found it hard to concentrate on the ferns. Just within the carpark of the picnic area it wasn’t difficult to tick at least half a dozen rather nice species – Rose Robins, Eastern Whipbirds and the very shy Olive Whistler amongst them.

Eastern Whipbird in the car park.

One of several Rose Robins.
Thanks Merrin and Paul – great fun!

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely LOVE THIS!!

    Thank you for posting such lovely pictures and writing us a lovely guide of fern species, I will definitely be keeping an eye out for rough and soft tree ferns when exploring from now on!

    With love from Sydney,

    Sarah K