King fern is a tree-like fern with stout black rhizomes and short thick trunks that can grow to 80cm tall. In nature it is found in moist areas alongside streams, in rainforest gullies and other wet spots in tall open forest. It can occasionally be found in drier sites, growing from rock crevices among sandstone or granite cliffs or rockfaces. Natural populations are under threat due to habitat loss through land clearance and competition from weeds. Unlike true tree ferns they cannot be transplanted when it is mature.