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Epiphytic or occasionally epilithic ferns of very striking appearance, growing solitary or in clusters.


Paleotropical present, tropical South America present
Predominantly Paleotropical, one isolated species in tropical South America.


Platycerium is a very distinct genus, characterised by the frond dimorphism, the formation of a basket of base fronds and the dichotomously divided fronds. The subdivision of Platycerium is the subject of some dispute. The Malesian species can be arranged in three distinct groups, based mainly on growth habit and morphology of the fronds. The P. bifurcatum-group (forming large clumps of different plants by way of root proliferation, with fertile patches terminal on the frond segments); the P. coronarium-group (growing as single plants, with soral patches occupying specialised lobes near the basis of the fronds), and the ‘Giant staghorns’ (forming often very large, single plants, with soral patches in the sinuses of the fronds). Hennipman & Roos (1982) present a cladistic analysis in which the P. coronarium-group and the P. bifurcatum-group are linked together, and the ‘Giants’ are linked to species from Madagascar and South America. In contrast, Hoshizaki (1972) and Hoshizaki & Price (1990) present convincing arguments why the P. coronarium-group should be linked to the ‘Giants’ instead, with the Afro-American species forming a separate group.

Platycerium is closely related to Pyrrosia, with which it shares the peculiar indument. It has been classified as a separate family (Platyceriaceae Ching), and together with Pyrrosia it is treated as a subfamily (Platycerioideae) by Hennipman et al. (1990).


1 Baskets. The foliage fronds are articulated to the rhizome, and leave a distinct scar on the phyllopodium when they are shed. The base fronds are not articulate and are retained on the rhizome, where they gradually are covered with later base fronds, and ultimately disintegrate inside the basket. The most recent base fronds form an open or closed basket in which humus collects, and in which the plant sends out roots. The baskets may also provide the substrate for other epiphytes. At their base, the base fronds contain spongy water-storage tissue and may reach thicknesses of up to 2 cm. 3. Many of the species are very popular in cultivation throughout the world. Platycerium bifurcatum is frequently cultivated in Java, and is often seen for sale on roadside stalls near, e.g., the mountain garden Tjibodas (Java). 2. Some species may form large clusters of many different plants, which are formed either by long rhizome runners producing new plants at their apex, or by new plants growing from root tips.


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Alderw., Malayan Ferns. 1908: 707
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C. Presl, Epim. Bot. 1851: 152