Basket Fern – Drynaria rigidula

Recent rainfall in Plunkett Regional Park (120 mm) over recent weeks (November 2015) has triggered basket fern (Drynaria rigidula) frond growth.

This species loves to grow on rocks where it can escape from fires relatively unscathed. It can tolerate some fire, as long as it’s not too hot and its rhizomes (roots) are left intact.

During dry spells it loses its outer green fronds that break down into humus that is held in the basket by the lower brown nest fronds. The humus provides nutrients to the plant and also assists to hold moisture.

plunkett basket fern 1

Eastern facing slope in Plunkett Regional Park with basket fern growing on sandstone.

 

 

plunkett basket fern 2

This basket fern is taking advantage of both the rock and the large Planchon’s Stringybark (Eucalyptus planchoniana) dropping loads of leaf into the fern to build up valuable humus. The fire dependent heath in the background would burn much too hot for this fern to survive in, but it has a found a niche here to thrive in just adjacent to the more flammable fuels.

 

plunkett basket fern 3

Basket fern on the rocks taking advantage of cracks in the rocks and depressions that catch water in rain events. These ferns are fairly self-sufficient without any overhead branches to catch leaf litter from.

Basket fern is a relatively common species in Queensland but listed as endangered in New South Wales, probably due to it preferring more tropical climates.

It definitely adds some interest to Plunkett with it perched on many sandstone boulders around the park.

 

Another species of interest which thrives in the park and is fairly dependent on rock formations is  Skeleton Fork Fern (Psilotum nudum), pictured below.

Photo Paul Ansell 2014.

Photo Paul Ansell 2014.

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