What is the plant
Balantium antarcticum (more frequently known as Dicksonia antarctica) is probably the most well known of an ancient group of palm-like plants generally known as the tree ferns. Tree ferns, members of the fern order Cyatheales, are distributed in tropical and subtropical regions as understorey plants of moist, humid environments. They are also found in temperate rain forests of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The spores, fronds and stems of tree ferns can also make up substantial proportions of the fossil record in some parts of the world. The trunk of Balantium antarcticum, which may be up to fifteen metres tall, is formed of a narrow stem surrounded by dense root masses and the bases of fallen fronds. These roots and frond bases help support the tuft of living fronds. Although Balantium antarcticum plants shed their dying fronds from the canopy, other tree ferns, such as Dicksonia fibrosa, a New Zealand species, retain their fronds in the form of a skirt.
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