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In The Garden: An unusual South Florida tree specimen

By Staff | Jul 30, 2019
PHOTO PROVIDED Japanese fern tree

The Japanese fern tree (Filicium decipiens) is an unusual South Florida tree specimen that adds unique foliage and greenery to one’s tropical landscape.

The naturally round crown of this small shade grows up to 25 feet in height and is characterized as a slow grower. The Latin name means “deceiving fern,” which is entirely appropriate as this tree is not a fern at all. The leaf structure resembles that of a fern, with spores underneath, and waves in the leaves.

Found originally in Southern India, the shade created by the dense canopy creates a relaxing micro climate for streetscapes and gardens. The tree is often used as a street tree in Hawaii and Florida for this reason but is also tolerable to other varying conditions such as salt spray, low moisture and car exhaust.

Its root structure is deep, allowing it to withstand hurricanes. Of 10,000 seeds, hundreds or fewer may germinate properly. In its native habitat, the wood is favorable for its hard nature used in heavy construction, slow burning firewood quality, and its moderate to high natural resistance to decay and termites.

In The Garden is a joint effort by all at the local garden center, at 3889 Sanibel-Captiva Road, Sanibel. For more information, contact 239-395-5859 or visit www.facebook.com/rswalshinthegarden.