Platycerium andinum 'Blake' is the only staghorn
naturally grown in the Americas. It's common name is American
Staghorn and comes form Peru and Bolivia. These photos are from the valley of the Rio Hualtqaga in Peru.
The forest, called the Tropical Dry Forest of Peru, is in danger of
being cut down as land is converted to farming acreage and man's need to
expand. The size of the forest is estimated to be only 12,000
acres. The P. andinum 'Blake' is recognized as the most
natural cultivar known for this species.
P. andinums are tall slender staghorns. The shield fronds form very distinctive crown like tops and when the
fern is well established around the tree, it looks like a crown from all
sides. The andinum grows new shield fronds once a year in the
winter and then they turn brown. The shield fronds, are thick, possibly
1/8th of an inch thick. The shape of the bottom of the shield
frond is like a bowl. The vertical portion of the shield frond has
hexagonal shaped veins, similar to a P. madagascariense but shallow.
Some writers say it looks like a large P. quadridichotomum from
Madagascar. Recent DNA testing shows their close relationship. Fertile fronds droop down with many forks and the
spore patches tend to be in the center of the
fertile fronds and not the tips which, continue to grow.
New pups tend go form horizontally from the bud and eventually form a
circle around the host tree. This is called a ring type basket.
Unlike the P. coronarium, the rhizome does not split and grow
horizontally. The pups from from roots and grow a crown like the
P. coronarium. It is estimated that it takes 10 to 20 years for a
crown to form in the forest. But a hobbyist grower can possibly
mount several small plants around a pole and form a nice crown in less
Platycerium andinum does not like full sun, or great amounts of
water. It's native environment averages 35 inches of rain a year
with March the wettest month with 8.2 inches of rain. Some months
get very little rain. It grows best on trees with rough bark like
the quinilla tree, but not palms. It can be grown on plaques of
Platycerium andinum is thought to be one of the more difficult
Platycerium to raise from spore, but recent propagation efforts by
Charles Alford in Florida have produce several hybrids with P.
andinum one of the parents. Notably is one called P. Roy
Vail (P. andinum x P. madagascariense)
Roy Vail treats P. andinum much like P. elephantotis giving it
bright light, a rather loose moss, evenly moist, but not wet. P.
andinum is particularly prone to rhizome rot when small.
Its closest relative are the African P. elephantotis, and the
Madagascar P. quadridichotomum. Hennipman and Roos consider it to
be closer to P. quadridichotomum, because the spore patch location is
similar. Recent DNA studies show they are all of the same clade along
with P. ellisi and P. alcicorne. This clade of
platyceriums all have their spore patches in the center of the fertile
frond and the tips continue to grow.