‘Common Tree Fern’
The name Cyathea dregei derives from:
Cyathea – from the Greek ‘kyatheion’ meaning little cup, referring to the structure that holds the spores.
dregei – is named in honour of Johann Franz Drège (1794-1881), a German plant collector and explorer who worked extensively in South Africa.
Common names include the ‘Common Tree Fern’ and ‘Gewone Boomvaring’ in Afrikaans.
Cyathea dregei is endemic to Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, and South Africa where it can be found from Western Cape province to KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. The species is commonly found in open grasslands and on the periphery of forests. Cyathea dregei can be found growing at altitudes of between 800-1900m.
Cyathea dregei is a very tolerant tree fern that is renowned for its resistance to low intensity grassland fires. Fires blacken the trunks and singe the fronds but due to the speed at which the fires are often fanned by the wind the intensity is not great enough to damage the vascular tissue or pith at the centre of the trunk which the fern is dependent on to survive. The species is also tolerant of temperatures down -2°C (28°F) overnight but not for prolonged periods.
Cyathea dregei is a slow growing tree fern that can eventually reach heights of up to 5m tall and 20-45cm in diameter. The species has a very stout trunk with glossy brown scales. The dark green fronds can grow to 3m (10ft) in length.
Cyathea dregei is wideley cultivated in the southern hemisphere throughout Southern Africa and Australia. The species grows best in a sheltered spot in a rich humus soil with a constant supply of moisture. Mature established plants are more tolerant of exposed positions.
Family Name: Cyatheaceae.
Common Name: Common Tree Fern, Gewone Boomvaring.
Position: semi-shade and sheltered.
Soil: Humus-rich, neutral to acid soil.
Growth Rate: slow.
Eventual spread: 6m
Max Height: 10m
Hardiness: Hardy down to -2°C.
Summer tips: Keep plants moist, and out of strong winds.