The Garden Community for Garden Lovers

Bernieh's Garden

Platycerium superbum - Staghorn fern

Species: Platycerium superbum.

Common name: Staghorn Fern
Baotanic name: Platycerium superbum
Family: Polypodiaceae

As with other Platycerium species P. superbum is an epiphyte (grows on trees) or occasionally lithophytic (growing on rocks). It is native to lowland rainforests in Queensland and northern New South Wales.

Although the fern can look like a tangle of antlers at first, on closer inspection one can see the impressive ‘nest’ frond which can be 1m across at maturity. This ‘nest’ frond is designed to collect falling leaves and insects. These give the fern a valuable source of potassium and calcium, nutrients required for the production of their large fronds. It is from this frond that the fern attaches itself to the host tree. It protectively wraps around the rhizome and short roots, clasping onto the furrows in the bark with root like structures.

The fertile antler fronds emerge from low on the nest frond and can grow down to 2m in length at maturity. They are broad and multi branching in habit, hence the common name ‘Staghorn’. Midway along these fronds during summer the fern produces a mass of spores. This, along with its general size, is a distinguishing character for the species.

Photos of this plant

  • Staghorn_fern_2