Hobbyist's Guide to
Scroll down to learn about the different platycerium species
Our condolences to Charles Alford whose garden
suffered damage in the Sept 2016 hurricane Mathew.
This web page is intended to help identify the
species of platyceriums. In addition to the different species,
there are dozens of different hybrids and even more cultivar within the species. With this site I hope to encourage hobbyists to grow
Platycerium Ferns and enjoy the rewards. I also list many of my pups
for sale on Craig's List and eBay. If you find something you
are interested in obtaining, contact me via email.
About the author. When about 30 years old, I purchased a 2" potted staghorn at Sears, and to my amaze, I could not kill it. Then while working at TRW in Redondo Beach, a co-worker obtained a signed copy of Roy Vail's book for me and I started collecting and growing platyceriums. Eventually I got bored with the hobby and let them grow out of control in my back yard. They all got humongous and too big to handle. They started falling off their mounts and today, 40 years later, I have renewed interest, possibly an obsession, and have been remounting pups for sale. Actually the plant got too big to lift back onto its mount and my savior was to cut it up and mount volunteers. Provides a nice retirement income. This web site is also my study of the genus platycerium and researching and developing it is my technique for learning the specifics of each species/cultivar
Currently my collection includes 23 species/hybrids: P. andinum, P. alcicorne Africa, P. bifurcatum, P. Coronarium, P. coronarium Phillippinese, P. dawboy, P. elemaria, P. elephantotis, P. ellisii, P. grande, P. Horn's Delight, P. Horn's Dwarf, P. hillii (Jimmie, Hula Hands, Bloomei), P. holttumii, P. mt lewis, P. panama, P. ridleyi, P. stemaria White, P. superbum, P. veitchii, P. willinckii (Java, Pygmaean & Schofield). I also have a 35 year old under developed P. grande, but I suspect it may be a P. superbum. It has been growing in full shade and I recently relocated it to a sunny location and it is now starting to grow. Maybe in a year I will be able to see fertile fronds. I also have a P. plastickii which is an artificial platycerium I picked up in Thailand. LAIFS jokingly named it a P. plastickii.
NEW WATER TEST I have been running a test comparing the growth of Platyceriums using tap water, RO water and RO water with Super Thrive. The results are very obvious in just 14 days.
Roy Vail has generated a list of Platyceriums based upon the Degree of Difficulty in growing which every hobbyist should review.
A word about names. The idea of personally naming a new species or cultivar is a tempting achievement and because no formal national association has stepped forward to register platycerium names, the act of naming has become a 3 ring circus with multiple acts performing concurrently. Until DNA testing and a recognized organization takes the center ring, we need to recognize that many cultivars are duplicates with other cultivars, possibly growing in a different environment. An example is the P. bifurcatum Netherlands and P. bifurcatum Mickey's Delight which to me are the same with different cultivar names. Any hobbyist should take the time to research and know the difference between: a variety, a sport, and a cultivar.
Platyceriums are displayed in many ways. In hanging baskets, on trees, and cedar and redwood boards. The redwood boards are the most durable and we have them available on this web page.
Below you will see the many different species and hybrids identified and eventually links to more detailed pages. The recognized species of Platyceriums are:
GENERALIZATIONS ABOUT PLATYCERIUMS
To read about propagating spore click on this link
|P. alcicorne (al-ci-corn-e) also mislabeled as
P. vassei. "Alcicorne" means elk or moose antler.
P. alcicorne is very similar to P. bifurcatum. There are two
forms of the P. alcicorne; one from Africa and one from Madagascar and they
are uniquly different. Considered an easy-to-grow
species with upright fertile fronds bending down on the tips. Pups well. Semi-hardy to 32°F (4.4°C).
The East Africa variety are characteristically yellow-green, waxy, hairless and the dead shield fronds turn rich brown.
The Madagascar variety fertile fronds are characteristically wide dark green, with many hairs. When grown in high light, the shield fronds grow folds in the upper half of the shield.
Normal dieing of shield fronds begins at the bud and advances toward the edges. Narrow fertile fronds suggest a higher light environment is tolerated. The shiny, waxy coating on the fertile fronds prevents water loss under high light.
Photo: Don Eckel
|P. andinum, (an-DE-num). Common Name -
American Staghorn. The only Platycerium native to South
America, specifically in the mountains of Bolivia and Peru. Moderately difficult. This dry forest
species needs good ventilation, and drying between watering.
Young fertile fronds are covered with dense silvery hairs. As the fertile frond matures, it appears more waxy with promenent veins. The fertile fronds fork and create a lobe where you might expect a spore patch. However the spore patch is lower and tend to be in the center of the fertile fronds and not th e tips which continue to growl
Temperatures between 70°F-90°F (21-32°C), low of 40°F (4°C). Requires low light. Produces pups readily.
Photo: Herb Halling
|P. bifurcatum. Common Name - Common Staghorn.
Bifurcate means to divide or fork which describes the branching shape of the
fertile fronds. Generally narrow fertile fronds, upright with the ends
hanging down. Tips of shields are divided into lobes which are often
pointed and extend forward. Shields are usually brown during spring
and summer, green shields form during the spring and summer.
Fertile fronds remain green, grow most of the year and last 2 or 3 years.
Notice how the tip of the fertile frond ends turn down. This is a characteristic of the P. bifurcatum 'Netherlands'. Not all p. bifurcatums have this trait, it is unique to the P. bifurcatum 'Netherlands' cultivar. Most photos on the Internet of P. bifurcatum 'Netherlands' appear to be mislabeled because they do not turn down. Normally the P. bifurcatum fertile fronds point up.
The pictured plant form Roy Vail is overgrown with shield fronds extended out excessively. It is a matter of time, and possibly a heavy rain, and these will eventually break off and fall to the ground.
Photo Roy vail
|P. coronarium, (cor-o-NAR-i-um) which means crown,
describing the shape of the mature mass of shields. Shield fronds are
highly lobed and very thick and corky. Fertile fronds form a long and
twisted mass, with spore patches on the underside of kidney-shaped lobes.
There are reports of fertile fronds being extremely wide and other reports with extremely narrow fertile fronds as shown here.
Photo: Platycerium Ferns
Common Name - Angola Staghorn. Moderately difficult. Thrives in warm temperatures of 80°F-90°F
(26.6°C-32.2°C), low of 60°F (15.5°C). Produces large un-branched, dark
green foliar fronds. The shield fronds are massive and die in the spring and
need the tops trimmed so new shield can grow erectly. Large fern. Native to
dry forests of tropical Africa.
hybrid of P. andinum and P. elephantotis. Because of the name,
it was popularly thought to be a cross with the P. elephantotis and P.
stemaria, but recent DNA testing has confirmed P. andinum to be the parent.
Observations suggest the second parent is P. elephantotis. Both the P
andinum and P. elephantotis, have
fertile fronds wide with wavy lobes and longer than the shield fronds are
tall. Both have fertile fronds with deep prominent veins running length
Dan Yansura confirmed the parentage with P. andinum with DNA testing and Dr. Harald Schneider also found this parentage. Barbara Joe Hoshizaki also suggested the P. andinum cross with P. stemaria in a plant she sent Charles Alford.
The shield fronds are smaller than the fertile fronds and wavy at the top.
|P. ellisii. (el-LEE-see-eye)
Closely related to the African form of P. alcicorne. Both have
the same yellow-green color, waxy coating, and they both grow round shield
fronds in the sprng and early summer, and fertile fronds during the late
summer and fall. The P. ellisii is unique in the fertile fronds
are consistently wide and and divided into only two points near the tips.
Originally from the mangroves forests of Madagascar, suggests they need a warm, humid environment, with filtered light.
When the new shield fronds do not cover the older ones, it needs to be trimmed because the roots are shallow and the rhizome grows upward quickly. This is an annual requirement. Without trimming, new pups will not grow.
|P. grande. Difficult to grow. Likes high humidity
but is easily over-watered. Young plants produce only basal fronds. Foliar
fronds recline. Light green in color. Does not pup. Tender below 60°F
(15.5°C). A large fern, prized by collectors. Native to Philippines.
Notice how much sun this platy is receiving.
Grande typically has 2 spore patches but no frills around the bud. When comparing photos of the grande and the P. superbum, the P. grande appear to have much thinner dangling fronds below the lobes with spore patches.
|P. hillii cv Jimmie. Closely related to P. Bifurcatum,
it is easy to grow
with semi-erect dark green, foliar fronds. The fertile fronds are
long, erect, wedge-shaped with forked tips. A true P. hillii
has broad forked tips. Shield fronds turn brown
naturally and have rounded to shallow lobes. Pups well. Semi-hardy to 40°F. Many species are available. This
particular plant (pictured) is believed to be from the Steve Talnadge
collection and has seen temp down to 33°F without any visible damage.
However when temps rise above 100 degrees, filtered sun can burn the fertile
Steve Talnadge of Chula Vista, CA operated Talnadge Fern Nursery for may years and his collection was sold off upon his retirement in the late 1970s.
Photo: Herb Halling
|P. holttumii. (holttum-e-eye) Closely related to P.
grande, P superbum, p. wallinchii and P. wandae. It differs from first
two by having fertile fronds with two lobes, one smaller and elevated, the
other larger and hanging down. Both lobes have spore patches. It
differs from P. wandae by not having the little points (frills) on
the edges of the shield fronds around the bud.
P. madagascariense (madagascar-e-en-se) A rare
species with shields like no other platycerium. Their veins form tall
ridges which surround little valleys, waffle like. New shields are thin and light
green, but turn rich dark green when they mature. The shields cover
the top of the moss and do not collect debris behind them. In nature,
ants live in the shield fronds which may provide the fertilizer.
Fertile fronds are wedged shaped with 1 to 3 shallow forks. Sore patches grow on the tips of the fertile fronds.
As the plant matures, the base tends to form a spherical shape
Considered a challenging plant to grow, it has been successfully grown in temps 32°F to 110°F but the extremes should be avoided and best grown in a greenhouse environment with lots of humidity.
(quad-ra-di-cot-to-mum) This is a small, unique, and little
understood platycerium from western Madagascar, which is considered
hard to grow and rarely found in collections. The fertile fronds hang down. Their
edges are usually wavy. Their upper surface may be hairy in bright
sunlight. The lower surface is densely covered with tan hairs.
The spore patch is dark brown, and located in the area of the second frond
division, similar to P. andinum
The name comes from the fertile fronds which often branch the number of times it takes to form four tips. In nature this fern usually grows on limestone rocks, not trees. Little is known about these
|P. ridleyi is one of my favorites. It needs to
stay dryer and breezy than most staghorns. I suspect the breezy helps
keep the fern dry. The spore grow on the underside of spoon-shaped
lobes that protrude from the normal fertile fronds. The
shield fronds grow so they keep most water water out of the root ball.
It is common in the wild for ants to live deep inside and it is a symbiotic
relationship that the ridleyi tends to attract, but probably not
necessary for the growth of the fern. The ridleyi does not collect
nutrients off water like other platyceriums.
Photo: Google / Platycerium Sakura.ne.jp
Common name: Triangle Staghorn. Not sure where the "White" comes from
since the fertile fronds are dark green. Or is it some one's name? Large-growing wide shields, wavy at
the top and short lived and are seasonal. The fertile fronds are often
shiny on the upper surface, and quite hairy on the underneath. The
fertile fronds show a main division into two lobes and each of these lobes
divides once again. There are two spore patches on each frond, one on
each main lobe, in the area of its division. When mature the spore
patches are dark brown. More difficult to grow, requiring temperatures
of 80°F (26.6°C) and not below 50°F (10°C). Needs high humidity and frequent
watering. Semi-erect, large foliar fronds with a silvery cast when young.
Produces pups readily in moist areas.
Broad fertile and dark green suggest a filtered light is best and shelter from wind. This condition also suggests less spore production. It is expected, if grown in brighter light, the fertile fronds would tend to be narrower and shorter with more spore.
Photo; Facebook - Planet Platycerium, by Peterne Katai
||P. stemaria 'Laurenti' is considered a species different from the P. stemaria 'white'. DNA testing has shown they are closely related but unique species|
|P. superbum. (su-PERB-um) Very similar in
appearance to P. grande when young. Shield fronds are deeply lobed
and may reach 4 ft tall. Upper edges extend forward to form a catch
basin. Once the shield fronds reach 2 ft. fertile fronds can be
expected. Each fertile frond has one spore patch, oval to nearly triangular
and brown when mature. Large
reclining foliar fronds light green in color. Does not pup. Hardy to 30°F
(–1.1°C) for short periods, although prolonged cold temperatures not
tolerated. Likes brighter light than the average staghorn. Prized by collectors. Native to Australia.
Similar to the P. grande which is native to the Philippines and has
two spore patches and no frills around the bud. The P. superbum
has only one spore patch and frills around the bud.
Photo; Platycerium Ferns
|P. veitchii. (veitch-e-eye) A common and easy-to-grow species with
erect, silvery foliar fronds. Closely related to P. bifurcatum, but
unique in several ways. Semi-hardy to temperatures of
around 30°F (–1.1°C) and tolerant of light frost. High temperatures of
120°F. This is a semi-desert species
native to Australia and requires a lot of light to show all its traits
fully. The main identification feature is the tips of the shield
P. veitchi features show a great amount of white hair on the fertile fronds. Its fertile fronds are very upright in high light. The tops of its shield fronds grow into tall thin fingers. As the shield frond decays, it leaves a distinctive skeleton of the frond.
In high light, fertile fronds are shorter, lighter and more vertical with more spore patches.
Roy Vail says P. Veitchi cv Lemonei will grow in 120 degree heat if the plant is well established and sheltered from strong dry winds. Normally P. veichii, cv Lemonei grow on rocks and the spore germinate in lichens growing on the rocks
|P. wallichii (wal-lee-key-eye)
In nature tends to be 4.5 ft tall, but smaller in cultivation. The
shield fronds form baskets and turn brown. The fertile fronds grow
multiple rounded lobes and only the first two lobes have spore patches. The
fertile fronds had distinctively proment veins on the upper side.
Eventually the fertile frond blends into the shield fronds.
Plants tends to go into a dormancy stage and frequently die and never come out of dormancy. Some growers have successfully not watered it during dormancy, and others have kept it watered and prevented dormancy. More experience is needed. The spore are green and do not live long. This gives a short window for propagating spore, but they do volunteer fast in moist conditions.
|P. wandae. (wan-dee),
The Queen Staghorn. Needs high
humidity; easily over-watered. Temperatures between 80-90°F (26.6°C-32.2°C),
low of 60°F (15.5°C). Possibly the largest Platycerium. Native to
New Guinea. This culture needs plenty of space to grow in cultivation.
Shield fronds are very upright and lobed along the top forming a basket. The fertile fronds grow two lobes with frills around the bud, the smaller lobe is elevated. Each lobe can have spore patches.
Photo; Platycerium Ferns
Wandae typically has two spore patches, one smaller and elevated, and frills around the bud.
||P. willinckii (wil-lin-key-eye)
or Java Staghorn. closely related to P. bifurcatum but the shield
fronds are different by being very tall and deeply lobed. They quickly
turn brown and as they decay a mesh of veins is left standing. The the
first thing I look for on willinckii is fertile fronds wich
grow edgewise at the bud and then hang down. Usually there is a stark
contrast between the brown shield fronds and the green fertile fronds.
This platycerium is easy go grow but does not tolerate cold as well as P. bifurcatium. The bud is small and slow to grow fertile fronds suggesting it may be dead. But with time, the fertile fronds develop. Pups do form but not as freely as P. birfurcatum. Grows well in medium light, moist moss, and is not prone to rot.
Photo: Google, www.greenculturesg.com
|P. African Oddity
alcicorne and P. ?). An accidental creation that appeared in Charles Alford's
growing area in Florida. The photograph is from Tom's garden in
Huntington Beach, CA.
Photo: Tom Gauchi
|P. Callard hybrid (P. andinum and posibility P. quadridichotomum)
is a Charles Alford creation named after Don Callard, president of the San
Diego Fern Society. Don has done more for platyceriums than most
This author feels the quadridichotomum trait is obvious in the fertile fronds with the wide frond and the forking. P. quadridichotomums get their name from the forking which results in 4 tips. Both the quadridichomum and andinum have spore patches between the first and second fork and not on the tips of the fertile fronds. The andinum is also apparent in the fertile fronds plus the tall narrow shield frond whereas the quadridichotomum shield fronds flare out more to form a basket shape. The P. stemaria 'Laurentii' also grow a similar fertile frond and spore patches
|P. charles alford
is a hybrid of P. wandae and P. ridleyi. Mr Charles
Alford reports it appeared while sowing P. wandae spore in the mid
1980's. It was thought to be a sport of P. wandae,
but current logic supports it is a true hybrid after growing for a few decades.
|P. dawboy. A hybrid
between P. madagascariense and African form of P. alcicorne where the shield frond is
defiantly of P. madagascariense origin and the fertile fronds are more
P alcicorne in nature, of moderate width and light to medium green
suggesting it was crossed with the African form of the P. alcicorne.
||P. diversifolium hybrid is a cross of P.
bifurcatum and P. hillii. The fertile fronds are wide like
P. hillii, and the shield fronds are round like P. hillii. Where the
P. bifurcatum comes from is not obvious in this photo.
Photo Rainforest Flora
hybrid is a cross between P. bifurcatum and P. veitchii and propagated by
Siam Exotica in Thailand
Photo: Siam Exotica
|P. Horn's Surprise
hybrid is a cross of P. alcicorne and P. madagascariense.
Jerry Horn, a nursery man in Florida and was one of the first experts
on platyceriums. Because of the light green color, it is thought to be
an African form P. alcicorne.
Charles Alford has a hybrid cross of P. madagascariense and P. alcicorne which he says is a reverse cross of the two. A nice photo is needed.
Photo: Siam Exotica
|P. Jimmy Davis hybrid from Charles Alford. This hybrid is a cross of P. ellisii and P. stemaria.|
|P. Larry Weed (hybrid)
is also a cross of the P. madagascariense and P. alcicorne, created by
Charles Alford. However it
appears to be the Madagascar form of the P. alcicorne. The shield
fronds appear to be the typical P. madagascariense form with the deep folds.
The fertile frond is wider, waxy like with pronounced veins.
The color is also dark green, typical of the P. alcicorne from Madagascar.
Photo Herb Halling
||P. Lucy hybrid (P. andinum and P. ?)
A product of two platyceriems growing in the same area, created by
Photo Tom Gauchi
|P. madagascariense x P.
quadridichotomum from Charles Alford shows deep ridges in the shield fronds and medium green color.
The fertile frond show the shape of the P. quadridichotomum and are darker
in color. The P. quadridichotomum is a small dwarf like platycerium so
it is not expected this hybrid will grow much larger.
Siam Exotica lists a P. Durval Nunes which they say is a cross of P. madagascariense and an unknown. From the photo they give, this author believes it is a cross of P. madagascariense and P quadridichotomum which would be the same as Charles Alords hybrid.
Photo Herb Halling
|P. Majus hybrid (P. veitchii
x P. hillii), is clearly of Australian origin and not within the P.
alcicorne species. The improper name P. alcicorne Majus
formerly used is very misleading and we now call it P. majus hybrid.
P. alcicorne is to remotely removed to be a natural hybrid/species. It is a fairly
large growing staghorn with a growth habit similar to P. veitchii
with strongly erect fertile fronds. P. vietchii likes a bright
light environment to show it's true colors; not sure what P. Majus
likes. The shields are lobed, but do not
exhibit the long divisions of true P. veitchii. Charles Alford
believes it is probably a hybrid within the bifurcatum compex, possibly
P. vietchii x P. hillii
|P. Mt kitshakood hybrid cross of P. ridleyi and P.
coranarium. Displays traits of both parents. with large highly forked fertile fronds
similar to P. ridleyi but grow in a twisted mass like P.
coranarium, and the length of P. ridleyi. Both parents grow
kidney shaped lobes that produce spore. The shield fronds are lobed
like P. coranarium and thick and corky, similar to P. Ridleyi.
The thick corky shield fronds suggest climate above 40°F. Some reports suggest filtered light, but there are reports of healthy growth in bright light.
Photo; Platycerium Ferns
|P. Roy Vail hybrid
cross of P. madagascariense x P. andinum. Obviously named after
Roy Vail, author of the first bible on platyceriums, "Hobbyist's Handbook"
Roy has put a lot of time and effort into promoting the P. andinum in
Peru and Bolivia and supporting their efforts to conserve their natural
growing areas from clear cut farming.
Hopefully this plant will be in the trade some time soon. The shield fronds are waffled like the P. madagascariense, but tall and narrow like the P. andinum. The fertile fronds are wide and forked like the P. madagascariense yet longer like the P. andinum. This plant has not grown spore patches yet. Overall, it is expected this plant will become larger than most P. madagascariense found in collections. The color appears darker green than most P. madagascariense but that may be a result of the growing environment.
Photo Herb Halling
|P. silver velvet
A hybrid grown from a cross between P. elephantotis &
P. willinckii. Grows massive shield fronds like the P.
elephantotis and wide fertile fronds, only deeply branched like the
One could argue that there are traits of P. hillii with the wide
fronds and shape of the shield fronds.
Little is known about this cultivar, but we can assume it likes a warm climate between 60°F and 90°F and it grows pups. May like moist moss and not prone to rot.
|P. Yanid hybrid (P. willinckii and P. hillii). Both are of the
Java-Australian group and today is called a hybrid whereas the pictured
individual dates back before hybrids were popular and may have occurred
naturally It is probably 50 to 75 years old. The fertile fronds grow edgewise which is a P.
willinckii trait. The shield fronds are rounded, and not tall and
deeply lobed like P. willinckii, thus it is a P. hillii trait. The shield fronds
also grow in a ball form which is also a P. hillii trait. The
plant shown is located at Filoli Gardens in Woodside CA where temperatures frequently drop
below freezing for short periods during the winter.
Photo: Herb Halling
|P. x mentelosii
hybrid (men-tel-osee-eye) is a hybrid
between P. superbum and P. stemaria. Also referred to as P.
superbum x stemaria. This hybrid also called P. Fantastic
Gardens by Barbra Joe Hoshizaki in her book Fern Growers Manual.
Not a lot is known about this cross and today's growers may be calling it
The P. x mentelosii is considered a sterile hybrid, but Barbra Joe reports that some viable spores can be obtained from two lobes with spore patches. Like its P. superbum parent, the P. x mentelosii does not offer volunteers like the P. .
|P. bifurcatum cv Blue Boy, grown by Talnadge. He wanted to name the
cultivar after the individual that provided the fern, but he had already
name it Blue Boy. Similar to the P. bifurcatum above, but the
tips do not turn down.
Photo: Toms Staghorn Ferns
|P. bifurcatum 'Vildrii'
Dark green and broad fertile fronds suggest growing in filtered light is best.
Photo; Platycerium Ferns
'bloomei'. Not much known but they
do grow in So Cal area. May be the same as P. bloomei fingers, but the
fingers have not grown on this plant.
Wide waxy fronds suggest is retains moisture and should probably be grown in filtered light.
Photo; Don Eckel
The dark green fronds suggest growing in filtered light.
||P. hillii 'Hula Hands'
Brought to Talnadge
who wanted to name it after the person who brought it, but that person had
already named it Hula Hands. There seem to be 2 or 3 forms in the
A unique platy from Polynesia that has fertile fronds with small fingers on the end. Easily identified and easy to grow. One hobbyist feels his hula hands died because he did not have enough humidity in his hot greenhouse.
|P. hillii 'Panama' is a cultivar of P. hillii
The shield fronds hug the tree or mount closely making it difficult to
water. The fertile fronds are wide like a typical P. hillii.
What makes the P. panama unique, it is a small platycerium and slow
growing. It is hard to see the true characteristics of the P. panama
until it is well established.
P. panama is a small, slow growing platy with round shield fronds. Once established pups are volunteered slowly.
This platy should take temps from 40 to 90 degrees F. in filtered sunlight. It likes humidity
Photo: Herb Halling
|P. Mt. Lewis is
a cultivar more properly called P. willinckii cv Venosa.
From Mt Lewis in remote northern Queensland, Australia and is probably
responsible for the early reports of P. willinckii in Australia. There
appear to be two forms, one with narrow strap like fronds, and
one with wide fronds. They both hang down and produce spore on the
underside. The shield fronds tend to be roundish on the bottom, and
majestically tall and deeply lobed on the top.
|P. elephantotis x P. stemaria 'Laurentii'|
|P. la reunion is
no longer found in the trade. It is believed that mariners collected
them years ago, probably from Reunion Island, and spread them around calling
them La Reunion. When in reality, they were probably P. bifurcatum or
another common platycerium.
Image, Roy Vail.
|Many of the photos on this web site have been taken from other platycerium web sites. Namely Tom's Staghorn Ferns, Don Eckel, Platycerium Ferns, Facebook and others.|
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