Tag Archives: Re-vegetation

Fern Regeneration

Ferns are a vital component of a number of the vegetation communities (EVC’s) that exist in our district e.g. Wet and Damp Forests. However when an area is being replanted ferns are often left out of the mix, mainly because they are tricky and more expensive to propagate and may also struggle with being transplanted.  The upside is that given the right conditions ferns can easily come back eventually by themselves over time.

Tender Brake - (pteris tremula) - At first mistaken for Bracken Fern
Tender Brake – (pteris tremula) – At first mistaken for Bracken Fern

A fantastic example of ferns ability to spread can be found in my own garden. I live on a property which is next to farmland and a dry schlerophyll forest, the rainfall average is about 700mm a year and the nearest fern gully would be around 6km away as the crow flies.      Over the last year or so I have been amazed at the ferns that have been popping up in my , garden. The first one I noticed was growing in a protected spot next to some tea tree, initially I had assumed it was just a bracken fern (pterdium esculentum) which is common here (like everywhere else). I was in the process of learning to identify my ferns better and one day while walking past this fern I realised it was in fact a different species, which turned out to be pteris tremula (Tender Brake).

My next and biggest discovery came when I noticed to my surprise some ferns coming up in a corner of my vegetable patch where I have a row of citrus trees planted in large pots. I have now had at least 4 different species of fern appear, all of which you would not expect to find anywhere near where I live. In this area as well as Tender Brake, I have found Histiopteris incisa – Bats Wing-fern, Hypolepis rugulosa – Ruddy Ground-fern and what I am fairly sure at this stage of growth are 3 separate Dicksonia antarctica (Soft-tree ferns). With close inspection I can still see some young sporophytes (baby ferns) that are too small to identify the species. I also discovered another spot in the garden where a Pteris tremula has popped up next to a raised garden bed.

Surprise ferns appearing in my garden, including Histiopteris incisa (Bat's Wing-fern).
Surprise Ferns appearing in my garden, including Histiopteris incisa (Bat’s Wing-fern).

The key thing about all the sites where ferns popped up was that they were shaded and sheltered and they had good moisture, in this case as a result of both artificial watering, but also probably because of the milder and wetter summers we had had over a couple of years. Having bare soil would have also been a factor, prior to finding that the ferns were growing I was periodically spraying the area where they were with Glyphosate (Roundup) to keep the grass at bay. A key way to promote the regeneration of ferns on your site may be to provide some sheltered micro-climates where ferns can develop. Logs and rocks not only provide potential habitat for animals to shelter they can also provided a moist shaded environment suitable for ferns to recolonise your site.

The  spores responsible for the appearance of these ferns were either possibly brought in to my place via me (off my shoe or clothing) but also possibly by the wind as they are so light that they are thought to be able to carry many kilometres.

Photopoint Monitoring

A great way for anyone to monitor change in vegetation is to set up photo points. They are an easy way to identify changes that happen over time. They are especially useful for monitoring re-vegetation sites, weed invasions and after fires.The main thing you need is a camera and some basic equipment to set things up. Think carefully about what you want to photograph and what changes you might be looking for. It is a good idea to have a reference point in the photo such as a distinctive tree, post or sign. When you have decided on your sites it is a good idea to put a marker post such as a star-picket in the spot where you take the photo from. If there is room you can also put another post 5m to act as a sighting post so you know where to aim the camera each time. A GPS can be used to get the site co-ordinates in case you post gets moved.

When taking the shot take a note of how far the camera is zoomed in or out so you can repeat that setting next time. It is a good idea to try to photograph a view that is as close to normal as possible. If you use a wide-angle lens object at the edges will be distorted in size. Using a tripod helps to keep the camera at a consistent height. A great way of making sure you shots are consistent is to have a copy of previous photos of that site with you to help you frame the shot. It is best to take the follow-up photos at regular intervals depending on what your aim is it may be you want to take them once a month, once every six months or even just once a year. Below are some examples of photopoints taken at Tarra Bulga National Park.

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