Platycerium Superbum

One spore patch for each fertile frond.  

Platycerium superbum is native to Australia and for many years was classified as a P. grande.  In about 1970, the two were split into two different species.  For this reason there may be a lot of confusion as to which species you are growing as both were called P. grande and it is taking a while for the trade to catch up with the two different species.  Because of this confusion, many P. superbum were labeled P. grande, and many P. superbum were labeled P. grande.  When affordable DNA testing comes available in the near future, you will be able to get a better handle on which species you have.

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. Before the shield fronds die and curve inward, a new green shield frond will cover the older frond while still green.  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 30F (1.1C) for short periods, although prolonged cold temperatures not tolerated. Likes brighter light than the average staghorn.

The P. superbum shown on the right is on the cover of the April 2015 issue of the LAIFS Journal and has grown in Southern California on a palm tree.  Recently the tree was removed and the platy was relocated to the Huntington Library.  This very large example of P. superbum appears to be almost 20 ft tall. 

The P. grande is generally considered difficult to grow, whereas the P. superbum is usually considered easy to grow and very tolerant of full sun.  In nature, some P. superbum are found growing on rocks.  It can tolerate temps down to freezing.  There are reports of the fertile fronds of P. superbum getting a sunburn on the upper surface of the spore patch lobes when the temperature is too high.

Comparison P. grande and P. superbum


P. grande

P. superbum

Temp Range

40 to 90 F*

 30 to 100 F

Number of lobes with fertile fronds Several, divided ** Several,
not divided
No. Spore Patches

 Two  per Lobe

One per lobe

Spore Patch shape Equal size Oval/triangular
Frill around bud



Volunteer Pups



Native to:




* The temp range of the P. grande is probably close to the P. superbum but not quite as cold tolerant.

** Frequently the first fertile frond of P. grande may be undivided with only one spore patch. 
As the plant matures a second divided lobe with 2 spore patches sill apear.

Research has shown there are many different forms of the P. superbum and here we sill try to identify the differences.
The photo on the left has been presented as the standard P. superbum.  It is from Don Callard's collection in San Diego.  The photo illustrates how the shield fronds open to form a basket to collect debri.  Click on photo for a larger image.
The photo on the right is a P. superbum cv 'White" from Don Callard's collection in San Diego.  Click on photo for a larger image.
This photo on the left is from Don Callard's collection in San Diego. It is a P. superbum with 2 fertile fronds with one spore patch on each frond.  What makes this interesting is the shield frond is that of a P. wandae.  It is not known if this is a cultivar of P. superbum, a hybrid of wandae x superbum, or possibly something else.  Click on photo for a larger image.

P. superbum Cabbage

A little know cultivar of the P. superbum is the P. superbum Cabbage (left) and the P. superbum Cabbage Dwarf (2 on right).  Our friends on Facebook Planet Platycerium say there is one spore patch on the fertile frond which puts it in the P. superbum family.

Andrew Poole of Perth Australia has graced us with more photos of the Platycerium superbum Cabbage which can be viewed at this link








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