Todea barbara (L.) T.Moore

Austral King-fern

Index Fil. 1 19 (1857) APNI

Taxonomic status:Accepted

Occurrence status:Present

Establishment means:Native

Trunk barrel-shaped, up to 1.8 m tall and 1.2 m diam., thickly coated with dark brown to black, fibrous aerial roots. Fronds up to 2.5 m long and 0.7 m wide, almost glabrous, without scales, forming one to several crowns with stipes submerged at base in root mass. Stipe 15–60 cm long, shorter than lamina, c. 1 cm diam., olive-green to light brown, smooth, flattened or grooved, winged at base with 2 broad flanges. Lamina 25–65 cm long, 12–35 cm wide, ovate, elliptic or oblong-lanceolate, bipinnate, green, glossy, somewhat leathery. Pinnules 1.5–4 cm long, narrowly oblong, sessile; attached by vein only at base of pinnae, but by full width toward apex; margins bluntly serrate. Sporangia numerous on lower parts of frond, large, spherical, red-brown when ripe, splitting vertically; spores numerous, green.

CVU, DunT, EGL, EGU, GipP, Glep, Gold, GGr, HFE, HNF, HSF, OtP, OtR, SnM, Strz, VAlp, VVP, WPro, Wim. Also SA, Qld, NSW, Tas. (including Flinders Is. and King Is.). New Zealand, South Africa. On waterlogged, organic soil in shaded gullies, watercourses and swamps; on and south of the Great Dividing Range.

A distinctive fern, with its large, fibrous trunk bearing crowns of bipinnate fronds, the lower portions of fertile lamina completely covered in rusty-coloured sporangia. Todea barbara is slow-growing and long-lived (200 year old specimens can be found in undisturbed forest).

Source: Entwisle, T.J. (1994). Ferns and allied plants (Psilophyta, Lycopodiophyta, Polypodiophyta). In: Walsh, N.G.; Entwisle, T.J. (eds), Flora of Victoria Vol. 2, Ferns and Allied Plants, Conifers and Monocotyledons. Inkata Press, Melbourne.
Hero image
Distribution map
life Life
kingdom Plantae
phylum Tracheophyta
order Osmundales
family Osmundaceae
genus Todea
Higher taxa


Source: AVH (2014). Australia's Virtual Herbarium, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, <>. Find Todea barbara in AVH ; Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, © The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (published Dec. 2014) Find Todea barbara in Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
  Bioregion Occurrence status Establishment means
Wimmera present native
Glenelg Plain present native
Victorian Volcanic Plain present native
Gippsland Plain present native
Otway Plain present native
Goldfields present native
Central Victorian Uplands present native
Greater Grampians present native
Dundas Tablelands present native
East Gippsland Lowlands present native
East Gippsland Uplands present native
Wilsons Promontory present native
Highlands-Southern Fall present native
Highlands-Northern Fall present native
Otway Ranges present native
Strzelecki Ranges present native
Highlands-Far East present native
Victorian Alps present native
Snowy Mountains present native

State distribution

Distribution map
South Australia
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory