Platycerium is a genus of about 18 species in the polypod family, Polypodiaceae . Ferns in this genus are widely known as staghorn or elkhorn ferns , because of their distinctively shaped fronds . This genus is epiphytic and is native to tropical and temperate regions of South America , Africa , Southeast Asia , Australia and New Guinea.
platicerium sporophytes (adult plants) have tufted roots growing from a short rhizome that bears two types of fronds, basal and fertile . The basal fronds are sterile, shield or kidney-shaped and splay against the tree to protect the roots of the fern from damage and drying out. In some platicerium species the top margin of these fronts forms an open crown of lobes and thus captures fallen forest litter and water.
The fertile fronds bear spores on their underside, are dicot or antler-shaped and protrude or hang out from the rhizome. The spores are produced in sporangia which are clustered in large sori which are usually located on the sinuses between the lobes or the frond lobes.
Some species of Platycerium are solitary with only one rhizome. Other species form colonies when their rhizomes branch or when new rhizomes are formed from root tips. Spores will naturally germinate on nearby trees if conditions are right. platicerium gametophytes are a small heart-shaped thallus.
Platycerium is divided into four natural groups . Many platicerium are strongly adapted to xeric conditions and drought-tolerant mechanisms have been reported for Crassulacean acid metabolism in P. veitchii .
The species Platycerium bifurcatum and Platycerium superbum are commonly cultivated ornamental plants. These strangely shaped ferns grow on trees and rocks and can be found in gardens, especially tropical gardens.
Staghorn can be propagated by spores produced on the undersides of fertile fronds. Colonial platicerium can also be propagated vegetatively by carefully dividing large healthy ones into smaller, individual plants . These new plants can then be attached to board mounts or tied to trees until they reach the tree itself. A mature staghorn can be over 1 m (3.3 ft) wide.
- Platycerium superbum at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, Australia
- Platycerium bifurcatum from Mendut Temple, Indonesia
- Platycerium Coronarium from Pahang, Malaysia
- Platycerium Grande to Buchidnon, Philippines
- Platycerium elephantotis at Kasaniemi Botanical Garden, Finland