Elkhorn Fern, Dwarf Elkhorn Fern, Climbing Bird’s Nest Fern, Terrestrial Elkhorn Fern, Fishtail Strap Fern, Fishtail Fern…
To make this page less confusing, links to information regarding the species names are attached to the highlighted names of the websites.
Plants of the World Online by Kew says Microsorum punctatum Copel. is the correct and accepted botanical name for all the common names mentioned above. It was described as such by Edwin Bingham Copeland in University of California Publications in Botany in 1929. Plants of the World Online list 47 synonyms for Microsorum punctatum.
The genus, Microsorum Link, was named and described by Johann Heinrich Friedrich Link in Hortus Regius Botanicus Berolinensis in 1833. Plants of the World Online currently list 39 accepted species in the genus Microsorum.
Polypodium punctatum (L.) Sw. is a synonym but it is still widely used on many websites and in commerce. It was described as such by Olof or Olavo (Peter) Swartz in Journal für die Botanik in 1800 and 1801. It was first named Acrostichum punctatum by Carl Linnaeus in the second edition of Species Plantarum in 1763.
There are three other species of ferns that were named Polypodium punctatum by other men which have been moved to other genera. They all have “typical ferny fronds”. There are MANY species of ferns throughout much of the world that were given different names by different botanists. Then there are those, as in Polypodium punctatum, where the same name was given to several entirely different plants. Many species of ferns have MULTIPLE (understatement) synonyms.
Polypodium punctatum Thunb.=Hypolepsis punctata (Thunb.) Mett.
Polypodium punctatum Spruce (or Spruce ex Hook)=Stigmatopteris lechleri (Mett.) C.Chr.
Polypodium punctatum (L.) Sw.=Microsorium punctatum Copel.
Polypodium punctatum Hook.=Grammitis punctata Raddi
Polypodium grandiceps G.Nicholson is an unresolved name. It was named and described by George Nicholson in The Illustrated Dictionary of Gardening in 1888.
I bought my Dwarf Elkhorn Fern from Lowe’s in Greenville, Mississippi in October 2011. I was living at the mansion in Leland at the time and was enjoying collecting plants. I am not sure what the label said the name of this plant was when I bought it and my original information is on the old laptop that won’t come on. I am not sure how many times I have changed the name of the photos.
The Wikipedia’s pages for the genera Microsorum and Polypodium both list the species punctatum with very little information on their links to the species. Since there wasn’t much information I didn’t include links for further reading.
Zones: USDA Zones 10b-11 (35 to 40° F)
Size: 18-24” tall and wide
Light: Part to full shade
Soil: Consistently moist
There isn’t much online about caring for this species. I kept my Elkhorn Fern, or whatever you choose to call it, on the cypress shelf I made in the kitchen at the mansion beside the Staghorn Fern. I cared for them both the same way as they have similar requirements. They received morning sun and shade the rest of the day. I saved rainwater especially for my Elkhorn and Staghorn Fern and normally immersed their pots in a bowl of water whenever they needed it. Their soil should not dry out completely. They prefer dappled shade to part shade and their leaves will burn if in too much sun.
I had no problems with this fern but I gave it to a good friend of mine when I moved back to the family farm in mid-Missouri in February 2013. Someday I will bring home another Elkhorn Fern when I have adequate conditions.
I will update this page when I am sure what the correct and accepted scientific name is for this plant. It is either Microsorum punctatum or Polypodium punctatum, probably the Microsorium. I will send an email to the editor of Plants of the World Online.
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.