The African Fern Pine: A Beautiful, Versatile Tree for North American Gardens

The fern pine, also known as the African fern pine, is a beautiful and versatile tree that can be used in North American gardens.

This tree is native to eastern Africa, and it has broad, narrow leaves. It is suitable as a mediumly tall landscaping tree in the right climates, but it also tolerates hard pruning and is frequently used as hedge plants.

Botanical Name Afrocarpus gracilior or Podocarpus gracilior
Common Name African fern pine
Plant Type Coniferous tree
Mature Size 40-60 feet, 20-35 feet wide
Sun Exposure Full sun (tolerates part shade)
Soil Type Well-draining
Soil pH 6.0 to 7.0 (slightly acidic to neutral)
Bloom Time Spring (flowers are insignificant)
Flower Color Yellow
Hardiness Zones 9-11 (USDA)
Native Area East Africa

Tips for Keeping Your Plants Healthy:

It is important to know the conditions in which your fern pine will thrive. The tree prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade.

It should be planted in well-drained soil that is high in organic matter. Water the tree regularly during its first growing season to help it establish a deep, extensive root system.

Once established, the fern pine is relatively drought-tolerant.

Lighting and Temperature

Fern pines enjoy full sun but can also tolerate partial shade. They are a heat-loving tree and will do best in climates that do not get too cold.

If you live in an area with very cold winters, it is best to plant your fern pine in a pot so you can bring it indoors during the colder months.


The African fern pine grows best in moist, well-drained soils with a pH of slightly acidic to neutral. It prefers full sun but can tolerate some shade. Once established, it is drought tolerant.


Fertilizer needs are low for this species.

It can live to be around 100 years old if healthy and undisturbed. The African fern pine is a beautiful, versatile tree for North American gardens that is easy to take care of with low fertilizer needs.

It tolerates hard pruning and makes an excellent hedge plant or landscaping tree.


Pruning is easy with the African fern pine and can be done to maintain a desired shape. The tree is fast-growing, so regular pruning may be necessary to keep it in bounds.

It tolerates most soil types but prefers well-drained, sandy loam soils. It is drought-tolerant once established and does not require supplemental watering except in extended periods of dry weather.


Fern pines are drought-tolerant once they’re established, but they benefit from regular watering during their first growing season.

After that, water them only during extended periods of dry weather.


The fern pine is a moderate to fast grower. In the wild, they can reach between 30 and 50 feet tall, but they are frequently pruned to be much shorter.

They have a pyramidal or columnar shape when left unpruned, with branches growing upwards from a single trunk.

The African fern pine is a versatile tree that can be used in a number of ways in the garden. It is often used as a specimen plant or hedge, and can even be trained as a bonsai.


Flowering takes place in the spring, with yellow flowers appearing on the tips of the branches.

The African fern pine is a dioecious tree, meaning that male and female reproductive organs are found on separate trees.

Only female trees produce cones, which mature into black berries containing one to two seeds each.

African Fern Pine Care

The Fern pine (Afrocarpus uscula) is a hardy species of tree that is becoming increasingly popular in the southern United States. It is praised for its low maintenance requirements, pest resistance, and wide environmental tolerance.

The Fern pine can be grown as a shade plant or pruned into an espalier, hedge, or tree. It adapts well to urban environments and is tolerant of smog, making it ideal for areas with poor air quality.

Although fern pine is generally resistant to insects and diseases, it is susceptible to aphids, scale, and sooty mould, though the damage is usually minor. 1 This species’ branches do not cause cracks or lifts in sidewalks.

As a result, the Fern pine is an excellent choice for those looking for a low-maintenance tree that can thrive in a variety of conditions.

Fern Pine vs. Yew Pine

The Afrocarpus gracior, also known as the fern pine, is a species of evergreen tree native to Africa. Although there are no named cultivars of this tree, it is similar to the yew tree (Podocarpus macrophyllus), which serves the same purpose as a landscape plant.

The yew pine, on the other hand, has a slightly higher cold hardiness (zones 7-9) and is smaller in size, with a maximum height of more than 40 feet. It also has a rougher leaf structure than the fern pine.

(The gracior name for the fern pine means more graceful.) The Afrocarpus gracior is typically used as an ornamental tree in gardens and parks, and its graceful form and dense foliage make it an ideal choice for privacy hedges or screening.

It is relatively low-maintenance and tolerates poor soils, making it a good choice for urban landscapes. If you are looking for a unique evergreen tree for your landscape, consider the Afrocarpus gracior.

How big does a fern pine get?

The fern pine is a large evergreen tree that can grow to between 50 and 65 feet tall. The tree has a stout trunk and branches that are covered in dark green, leathery leaves.

The leaves are usually divided into two or three lobes, and each lobe is further divided into smaller leaflets. The tree produces small, brown cones that contain the seeds of the plant.

Fern pines are native to Japan and Korea, but they have been introduced to other parts of the world, including the United States.

The tree prefers full sun and moist soil, and it is often used as an ornamental plant in gardens and parks.

Can fern pine grow in shade?

African fern pine (Podocarpus gracilior) is a beautiful evergreen that can add a touch of elegance to any landscape. It is native to South Africa and Lesotho, and grows best in USDA zones 9 through 11.

African fern pine is relatively tolerant of both sun and shade, although it will grow best when exposed to full sunlight.

The tree prefers well-drained soils with a neutral pH, but it can also tolerate slightly acidic soils.

African fern pine is relatively low-maintenance, although it will need occasional pruning to keep its shape. With its striking foliage and stately form, African fern pine is an excellent choice for any garden.

Are fern pines messy?

Fern pines are a type of tree that is known for its distinctively frond-like leaves. These trees can be found in a variety of colors, including green, yellow, and brown.

While fern pines are often considered to be beautiful, they can also be quite messy. This is because the male trees produce fruits that often fall to the ground.

As a result, areas beneath these trees can become littered with fallen fruits. If you are considering planting a fern pine, it is important to keep this potential mess in mind.

How do you prune a fern pine tree?

Pruning a fern pine tree is relatively easy and can be done in a few simple steps. First, you should remove any dead or diseased branches during the springtime.

This will help to keep the tree healthy and prevent the spread of disease. Next, you should trim back the canopy branches in order to keep and reduce its size.

This will help to keep the tree from getting too large and unmanageable.

Finally, you should remove any new growth that is growing inside the canopy. This will help to ensure that the tree maintains its desired shape.

If you want to encourage new growth, you can also pinch back the tips of the stems of the new growth that is tender.

By following these steps, you can easily prune your fern pine tree and keep it looking its best.

How fast does fern pine grow?

Fern pine is an evergreen conifer that is native to the Pacific coast of North America. It is a fast-growing tree, typically growing 12-36 inches per year.

The leaves of the fern pine are long and thin, with a deep green color. The cones are small and round, with scales that are tipped with red or yellow.

Fern pine requires full sun and moist, well-drained soil to thrive. It is relatively tolerant of drought and salt spray, making it a good choice for coastal regions.

When grown in ideal conditions, fern pine can reach a height of 50-70 feet.

Do fern pines grow fast?

Fern pines are an evergreen tree that is native to the island of Oahu. The tree gets its name from its unique fern-like leaves which are arranged in a spiral pattern.

The tree can grow to be up to 40 feet tall and has a lifespan of 150 years or more. Although the tree grows relatively slowly, with a growth rate of 12-36 inches per year, it can eventually become quite large.

For this reason, it is important to choose a location for the tree carefully, as it will be difficult to move once it reaches full size.

The fern pine should be situated in an area with well-drained soil and plenty of room for the roots to spread out.

Additionally, the tree should be placed on the north side of buildings to shield it from the heat that can occur on the south side of structures. With proper care, the fern pine can provide years of enjoyment.

How do you prune Podocarpus?

To prune a podocarpus, start by cutting the tips of any green growth on the tree to shape it or encourage fullness. Then, gently prune the outermost part of the growth to form hedges.

It’s best to do this in August or July so you’ll see a second phase of growth. Just be sure not to cut any branches at any other time of the year.

Podocarpus trees are known for their beauty, so with a little care and attention, you can keep yours looking its best year-round.

Is Podocarpus Macrophiles messy?

The Podocarpus Macrophiles, also known as the Buddhist Pine or the Longleaf Pine, is a species of conifer that is native to East Asia. Though it is often used as an ornamental plant, it can grow to be quite large, reaching heights of up to 20 meters (66 feet).

As its name suggests, the Podocarpus Macrophiles has large leaves, which are arranged in pairs along the stem. The leaves are dark green in color and can be up to 30 centimeters (12 inches) long.

The Podocarpus Macrophiles also produces small, reddish-brown cones, which contain the tree’s seeds.

Though it is not a particularly messy tree, the Podocarpus Macrophiles can drop its leaves and cones, which can create a bit of a messy appearance on paving stones or sidewalks.

How tall is a 15 gallon Podocarpus?

The Podocarpus is a genus of evergreen coniferous trees known for their distinctive fruit. There are approximately 100 species in the genus, ranging in size from small shrubs to tall trees.

The 15 gallon size Podocarpus typically reaches a height of 5-6 feet. podocarpus trees are native to tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, Australasia, and the Americas.

Many species are found in rainforests, but some inhabit more arid regions. The bark is usually dark brown or black, and the leaves are linear and leathery.

The flowers are borne on cones, and the fruit is a fleshy drupe with a hard seed inside. Podocarpus trees are popular ornamental plants, and several species are used in traditional medicine.

The wood of some species is also valuable, and is used for construction, furniture making, and carving.

Jessica Miles

Jessica Miles is a writer for Botanique Boutique, a plant and gardening blog. She has always loved plants, flowers, and anything green. When she was younger, she used to watch her grandfather garden and would be in awe of the beautiful flowers he would grow. Now Jessica writes about all things related to plants and gardening - from beginner tips on how to start growing your own plants, to in-depth guides on caring for a specific type of flower or plant. She loves helping others learn about this fascinating hobby, and hopes that her writing will inspire people to get outside and enjoy nature!

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