Ferns & Fossils

Cool tranquility

  • Built in 1967
  • Desired temperature: 8 - 11ºC
  • Relative humidity: 50%

An unfurling crozier of Culcita macrocarpaA path resembling an ancient riverbed with plant impressions and dinosaur footprints leads you round this house.

The grove of tree ferns around the cascading stream in the centre of the house echoes the montane cloud forests of temperate Australasia. These tall-growing species, which can reach up to 20 metres, provide shelter for other delicate species and understorey ferns that demand protection from high light levels.

You will also find a giant horsetail (Equisetum myriochaetum) here - it's as invasive as the garden weed and is contained within a concrete planter. Opposite this, there is a section of the petrified tree found at Craigleith Quarry (now a retail park). The main stem of the Craigleith Tree (Pitys withamii) can be seen in the Fossil Courtyard.

Following the ancient theme of this house is the drift wood, sculpted by nature and over a 1,000 years old and the lump of coal showing what a few million years of heat and compression can do to plant material in the production of fossil fuels. 

Bronze sculpture of Westlothiana lizzae by Mo Farquharson Look out for a replica of Westlothiana lizzae (created by Mo Farquharson), a 25cm long lizard-like reptile that lived in the swamps in central Scotland some 338 million years ago. 

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Interior view of the Ferns & Fossils House.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)