Tree and Ground Ferns

and the wildlife they support with a focus on the Toc Toc frog

92 Tree and Ground Ferns

This moist, shady type of habitat is found commonly in sheltered, southerly slopes and gully heads. The ground layer may be grassy or ferny, depending on fire history, and is usually capable of withstanding occasional flooding. It is great frog habitat because it provides food and shelter for the insects and other invertebrates that frogs eat.

The vegetation in this part of the riparian zone provides habitat for terrestrial insects, which fall into the stream from overhanging branches into the water and become food for other invertebrates, fish and turtles as well as frogs.


Identification of several “sensitive” (level 8) water bugs during the On The Trail Workshop indicated that Toc Toc creek is a very healthy waterway. The workshop was led by Natura Pacific expert John Pumpurs on 25 May 2019 during which several encased, small and large caddisfly larvae were collected from underneath rocks in the creek.

At least 16 species of frogs have been identified in the Currumbin Creek area including the Striped Marshfrog (Limnodynastes peronii), also known as the “toc toc” frog after the sound of its call.

The Toc Toc frog is the namesake of this trail and the hero of the ELM logo.

The top of the frog is marked with a series of dark and light brown stripes which break up into blotches on the sides of the frog. A white or pale-yellow raised fold runs from below the eye to the shoulder. The underside is white. As with a number of native frog species, they are sometimes called “rocket frogs” because of their pointed nose.

Males can be heard calling in most months of the year except deep winter. Males call while submerged in water beneath overhanging vegetation. Breeding is in the spring and summer months. Dark brown eggs are laid in foam nests on the water surface during spring and summer.


Listen to an audio clip of the striped marshfrog (MP3 audio file, 142K)


Tree ferns are the largest of the ferns. The Australian Tree Fern is naturally found in tropical lowlands along the coast of QLD to NSW.

Australian Tree Fern - Cyathea cooperi

Also known as Scaly Tree Fern, Straw Tree Fern and Lacy Tree Fern. This is a tall tree fern that grows up to 10 m. When it sheds its fronds, it leaves oval scars on the trunk. It derives its name of Lacy Tree Fern from its delicate fronds. It is also known as the Australian Tree Fern because it is one of the most commonly grown Australian tree ferns. C. cooperi is quite distinctive from the Rough Tree Fern (C. australis) in that it has a more slender trunk with distinctive "coin spots" where old fronds have broken off the trunk. C. cooperi fronds are bright green and lacy and tend to be very fast growing.

Prickly Tree FernCyathea leichhardtiana

A tree fern that grows up to 7 m tall with a prickly leaf base and glossy fronds that can be up to 2m in length. It is often found in groves.

Staghorn Fern - Platycerium superbum

A fern that can grow on rocks or other plants but is not a parasite. It is often found on the trunks of other trees.

Gristle FernBlechnum cartilagineum

This native terrestrial fern was identified during the village Land For Wildlife assessment. It has soft yellow-green fronds that change colour from pale pink when young.

REFERENCES Aus Nat’l Herbarium