Kampala Tree and Palm Directory

Tree Species
Common Name
Tree Description
Tree Uses

English: Fern-leaf tree, Fern tree.

+ Tree Species

Filicium decipiens

+ Tree Family


+ Ecology

Fern tree is native to Sri Lanka, the Western Ghats of southern India and small highland areas of East Africa. It is commonly cultivated in tropical and subtropical gardens and landscapes for its lush green, eye-catching foliage, compact size, uniform shape. It is best known for its striking foliage but large specimens also produce a heavy wood. It is found in forested ravines and in riverine and evergreen forest, up to 1600 m altitude. In Kampala, this tree can be found at York terrace, Wampewo avenue, Nasser road among other places.

+ Description

Medium to large evergreen treeup to 30 m tall. The winged petiole and rhachis on the pinnate leaves give a fern-like impression.

BARK: smooth, pale brown on young trees, on older trees becoming rough, fissured and flaking.

LEAVES: glossy, alternately arranged, with 5-10 pairs of leaflets. Leaflets are lanceolate to linear or narrowly oblong – elliptic (5 – 16 cm long and 0.5 – 4 cm wide) with entire yet curled wavy margin. There are about 30 – 50 pairs of tertiary venation present but faint. Petiole is about 1.5 – 11 cm long and winged. Rachis is about 15 – 30 cm long and winged on both sides (up to 1 cm wide).

FLOWERS: Inflorescence often occurs axillary and is narrowly paniculate (6 – 20 cm long). small, white with a pink tint and are held in loose clusters that are hardly visible. Both male and female flowers have 5 sepals and 5 yellow petals (1.3 mm long). Male flowers have 5 protruding stamens and rudimentary ovary, while female flowers have non-protruding stamens, unopened anthers and globose ovary which is covered in dense white hairs.

FRUITS: elliptical or drupe shaped (about 10 mm long and 6 – 8 mm wide) with persistent stype and reflexed sepals. Fruit turns shiny purple when mature and contains one seed within.

+ Uses

An ornamental tree.

Provides shade.

Can be used as a large privacy screen or windbreak.

The wood is sawn into durable beams and posts used in heavy construction and the small-diameter roundwood and branchwood is fashioned into tool handle.

Provides an excellent slow burning firewood.

+ Propagation


+ Management

Slow growing tree with a straight, short trunk and a dense, neatly shaped rounded crown.

+ Remarks

The genus Filicium comes from the Latin filix meaning fern. It refers to the foliage of the tree resembling fern fronds. The species epithet decipiens means "deceptive", alluding to the deceptive nature of the leaves in resembling fern fronds.Trees on favourable sites produce a hard and heavy wood, averaging more than 900 kgs per cubic meter, with moderate to high natural resistance to decay and termites.

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