A fern pine, or Afrocarpus gracilior, is a tall evergreen tree that grows in many parts of the United States and South America. It is a rather hardy tree that is normally not susceptible to damage caused by insects. It can often withstand strong winds, even those associated with hurricanes, so that it can be a good choice for planting near a coastal region.
This tree typically grows between 40 and 50 feet (12.2-15.25 m) tall. It can also be up to 30 feet (9.15 m) wide. These pines should generally be placed 40 to 50 feet (12.2-15.25 m) apart when planted as a windbreak, or wind barrier.
The leaves of a fern pine are bluish green or light green in color. Normally they resemble the fronds of a fern, rather than pine needles. These frond leaves as usually have a very soft texture and are smooth on the surface. Often, they are long and thin with a slight dot at the end.
Foliage normally grows in dense clusters on the tree. The leaves generally appear on thick branches that extend outward. The clusters of leaves then droop or point towards the ground.
The trunk of this tree often grows somewhat at an angle, rather than in a straight, up and down manner. Sometimes it may seem to have more than one vertical section. The bark of a fern pine is typically medium brown in color, and rough in appearance. There may be knots or bulges on the tree trunk as well.
There may be small, round fruit from time to time on a pine fern tree. These are normally light brown or beige in color, and may resemble nuts. They contain the seeds of the tree, but are not suitable for people to eat and can, in fact, be poisonous.
This tree does well in areas where temperatures normally don’t drop below 20 ° C (-7 ° C). It thrives in sandy soils and places where there is a lot of sunlight. These factors, together with the fact that this tree does not lose its leaves, makes it a popular shade tree in California.
A fern pine usually does not require great care to grow well. It may need to be pruned every now and then if the space around it grows is limited. This plant can be an interesting choice for both urban and rural landscapes.