ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY AWARD OF GARDEN MERIT
Platycerium bifurcatum (Cav.) C.Chr. is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Staghorn Fern. It was named and described as such by Carl Frederik Albert Christensen in Index Filicum in 1906. It was previously named and described as Acrostichum bifurcatum Cav. by Antonio José (Joseph) Cavanilles in Anales de Historia Natural Madrid (?) in 1799.
The genus, Platycerium Desv., was named and described by Nicaise Auguste Desvaux in Mémoires de la Société Linnéenne de Paris in 1827. Plants of the World Online is still uploading data and they don’t list species for the genus yet. The 2013 version of The Plant List named 9 accepted species of the genus. The Plant List is no longer maintained.
I bought my Staghorn Fern from Lowe’s in Greenville, Mississippi in 2011 while living at the mansion in Leland. I had bought one earlier but it didn’t last long and for some reason I don’t have photos unless I misplaced them. They may be somewhere in the old laptop that won’t come on.
Staghorn Ferns grow two types of leaves. The longer, fork-shaped leaves are fertile fronds and the heart-shaped leaves at the base are sterile fronds.
I kept my Staghorn and Elkhorn Ferns on a cypress shelf I made in the kitchen at the mansion. It received good morning sun in that location and did very well. My first one was in the butler’s pantry where it received a little sun in the afternoon. That didn’t work so well. Some information suggests wrapping the rootball with sphagnum moss and attaching it to a board. Although that would have been pretty neat, I just left mine in a pot. After a while, I transferred it to a larger pot and added plenty of organic stuff. It seemed fine with it and started growing very well.
As far as watering goes, you shouldn’t let the roots dry out completely. This is a rainforest plant, actually an epiphytic plant, that grows in trees. They get plenty of moisture in their native environment so it is a good idea to kind of sort of mimic that environment. Good luck with that, huh? Anyway, when I watered my Staghorn Fern, I usually immersed it in a bowl of rainwater. I collected and saved rainwater especially for my Staghorn and Elkhorn Ferns. I wouldn’t drink the water in Leland myself…
The Missouri Botanical Garden page (see link below) says, “Water crowns regularly, allowing the roots to dry out between watering. Roots must never be allowed to dry out.” What? How can you allow the roots to dry out if you aren’t supposed to let them dry out?
Origin: Java, New Guinea, Australia, New South Wales, Lord Howe Island
Zones: USDA Zones 10a-11 (30-40° F)
Size: 2-3’ tall x 2-3’ wide, depends…
Light: Part shade
Soil: Umm… Depends. For pot culture, use a peaty potting mix. See links below for further ideas.
Water: Well, the soil should never be allowed to dry out completely.
I gave my ferns to a good friend and fellow plant collector when I moved from the mansion in 2013. When I have a suitable location, I will definitely be bringing home another Platycerium bifurcatum…
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.