My Oh My! Mounted Staghorn ferns!! So dramatic and elegant! If you are looking for exotic and unusual plants, the Staghorn fern should be high on your list. Platycerium is a genus with 18 species with several more cultivars and hybrids 1. Ferns of this genus are commonly known as staghorn or elkhorn ferns due to the shape of their leaves that resemble antlers. The fern in the picture above is Platycerium alcicorne, where alcicorne means elk or moose antler. Platyceriums, like many bromeliads are epiphytes meaning they grow on trees and do not require soil. They are therefore common to see them grown in hanging baskets or mounted on wood or bark by hobbbyists. They are native to topical areas of Africa, Australia, Papua New Guinea, South America, Asia and Madagascar 1.
There are two types of leaves on the staghorn fern unlike other ferns. The sterile leaves are round, flat and green when young but turn brown and papery with age. They cover the base of the plant and surround the trees to anchor it thereby providing it with stability. These leaves also aid in holding moisture thereby preventing the roots from drying out2 and collect water and debris for nutrients3. They are termed sterile because they do not produce spores. The Fertile fronds are the tough, irregularly shaped leaves that stick out from the sterile fronds (the part that looks like antlers) and bear spores for reproduction at the underside of the leaves (hence termed fertile). I noticed fine white hairs on the underside of the fronds of my staghorn fern which can wipe off when touched. Resist the urge to do so as these hairs protect the leaves and aid in gas exchange2.
Staghorn ferns can be propagated from pups that the mother produces or from the spores (which I’ve read takes months). Since I have no experiences with either (yet), I will not be discussing the how-to here. However if you are interested in propagation by spores look here or here or here . For propagating by pups, go here.
If you would like to keep a staghorn fern indoors, it needs bright light although it will do okay in shade outdoors. The big problem with keeping staghorn ferns indoors is being able to provide it with the needed moisture and humidity to keep it happy. If you have a humidifier or green house this will be perfect on your walls.
So if you are enamoured by staghorn ferns like I am, the next step is to go out and get yourself one and then learn how you can mount your own.
Has anyone tried their hands at mounting a staghorn fern?
Till next time!
1. Kreier, H-P., & Schneider, H. (2006). Phylogeny and biogeography of the staghorn fern genus platycerium (Polypodiaceae, Polypodiidae). American Journal of Botany, 93 (2), 217-225.
3. Hartlage, R. W. (1998, January). Mounting a staghorn fern. Horticulture, The Art of American Gardening, 95(1), 58+. Retrieved from https://proxy.library.carleton.ca/http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA20354775&v=2.1&u=ocul_carleton&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=e4427a920e27acfda8c17acaee9be5e7
Hi, I’m Barbara and I’m a little obsessed with house plants. I share my house plant adventures in the hopes of inspiring you to continue to enjoy the greens in your home. And if you have no plants (yet!) I hope this blog inspires you to add some green to your home. So go on! Try it! I think you might quite like it. And who knows? You may end up being … obsessed too.