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How to tell if your tree fern is dead

Updated February 21, 2017

Tree ferns, which are also called Cyathea australis and Dicksonia Antarctica, look like combinations of large ferns and palm trees. Tree ferns can reach heights of between 11.7 and 14,7 m (39 and 49 feet), hence their name. They are tropical plants that grow in moist, shady location such as in a rainforest. Tree ferns planted outside in areas that aren't tropical require winter protection to survive. If you have a tree fern that looks dead, there are some ways to tell whether it will regrow.

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  1. Examine the fronds located at the top of the tree fern's main trunk and look for any area that is still green. If the fronds are completely brown and brittle to the touch, the tree fern is dead. If there are any areas of green on the fronds, the tree is still alive and may revive.

  2. Look at the very top centre of the tree fern, which is called the crown. You may need a ladder to do this if the tree is tall. Look for areas of green growth in the crown, which indicates the tree fern is still alive. If no green is seen in the crown, the tree is dead.

  3. Avoid pruning any dead areas on the tree fern until the temperatures rise in the spring. If no green growth occurs in the spring, the fern tree is dead and should be dug up or cut down to prevent it from falling and causing damage.

  4. Tip

    If the tree fern looks dead in the winter, do not prune off any damaged limbs until spring to avoid further injury.

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Things You'll Need

  • Ladder (optional)

About the Author

Kimberly Johnson

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.

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