Far Out Flora

Tree Fern Dell


Giant Gunnera and Tree Ferns

There’s a cool little stretch in Golden Gate Park called Tree Fern Dell, across the street from the Conservatory of Flowers. It’s filled with Australian tree ferns (Dicksonia antarctica) and Giant gunnera (Gunnera manicata) and a nice mix of plants I’d imagine in a dinosaur garden. Definitely one of my favorite spots in the park when the gunnera is in full force.

Foxy fuchsia

Back in the good old days (pre-1980’s) before the fuchsia gall mite arrived, I’ve heard that fuchsias were even more abundant in the Bay Area. There are some mite resistant varieties out there. Fuchsia loves the weather in SF.

More jungle fun

According to a dude named Donovan Tree Fern Dell¬† was, “Used in the final scene of Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan, where Spock’s coffin landed on the Genesis Planet.”

Bear's Breeches (Acanthus mollis)

Bear's Breeches (Acanthus mollis)

Another water lover.¬† Matti has a cutting that lives (sadly) in a pot. I won’t let him put it in the ground fearing we’ll never be able to get rid of it. The snails seem to love it too.

Australian tree fern

According to Donovan, some of these tree ferns date all the way back to 1898.



  1. Hello,
    Beautiful park and some tree ferns are very old. 1898 it’s very old.

  2. I love that area. The tree ferns are so old the trunks have become downright wooden. Have you visited the Fuchsia Dell, sort of northwest of the Conservatory? Unfortunately, I’ve never found it as bloggable as this area.

  3. aloha,

    this has always been one of my favorite spots in golden gate park, the ferns are so spectacular and the gunneras are soooo huge too! I will make it a point when i come to visit again next week!

  4. wow what an amazing garden, almost pre-historic. I can totally imagine it being used in Star Trek. Wish I had room for a Gunnera..

  5. Those tree ferns are just beautiful. I love tree ferns so much that I tried growing them in our garden. But they may not be suited to our place, they didn’t survive.

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  8. Lovely photos, Megan – your tree fern species, though, is very definitely Dicksonia antarctica (not Cyathea cooperi).

  9. Fantastic site, could really do with some advice on my tree fern, although I fear the worst. It has been suffering… I have attached a link, i do hope you don’t mind. http://innercitybuddha.wordpress.com/2011/03/19/please-help-me-save-my-tree-fern/

    Kind regards
    ICB x

  10. In the 1980s, when I was still a kid, we called this the dinosaur forest. And that’s what my kids call it now. It seems like several of the old tree ferns have been lost over the past 30 years (particularly on the slope that leads to the Steinhart). We just planted a Tasmanian tree fern (same variety as the one in the dinosaur forest, I believe), and I hope someone is around in 100 years to enjoy it as a full-grown dinosaur tree :-) I do wonder whether these trees in Golden Gate Park are actually older than 100 years. I know that it was (and is outside the USA) possible to buy freshly felled Tasmanian tree ferns from the lumber companies in Australia and root the mature logs out here. Some of those ferns in the park are well over 20′ tall, and a 20′ tree is about 120 years old, assuming the reported growth rate of 1-3″ a year is correct.

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