Platycerium alcicorne Desv.
One of the more interesting ferns and unusual plants in any collection, Platycerium alcicorne often becomes enormous. The bigger the Staghorn fern grows the bigger the price on it's head! In Miami, a plant the size of ours can demand $300 or more. A friend had one of these giants 4.25 meters (over 14 feet across) hanging in his yard. More than one person tried to steal it so they could cut it up and sell it as large pieces. Finally, out of frustration, my friend hired a crane and had the plant raised high in an oak tree attached to a chain with heavy links. It worked, no one ever tried to steal the plant again.
We started this specimen in 1998 from 3 tiny cuttings purchased at a garden store in Miami. The starts were attached to the outside of a wire basket lined with a coconut liner and filled with sand, soil, peat, orchid bark and Perlite. Today, the wire basket has vanished inside the fern! The photo to the left shows the plant in 2007. Our Platycerium alcicorne is now approximately 2.45 meters (8 feet) diagonally from tip to tip and hangs from the ceiling.
The ball surrounding the basket is now (May, 2009) .7 meters (2.3 feet) wide and is growing rapidly. As can be seen in the newer photos the Platycerium alcicorne has begun adding many new fronds in just the past year. The orchid basket measures 30cm (12 inches) square. Since the photo at the top of the page was taken the total size of the fern has increased substantially.
During the summer of 2009 the plant broke the chain that supported its weight twice so In October 2009 two workers were hired to place a large steel rod through the center with a pair of steel plates attached to the bottom to hold the weigh.
Platycerium alcicorne prefers to stay damp, but not wet. If kept too wet Staghorn ferns will deteriorate and die. Despite popular belief, it likes the sun, just not direct hot sunlight. The brighter the light the faster the plant grows. Originating on the island of Madagascar the species is reportedly found in eastern Africa and is now also found in tropical Australia and Indonesia.
Platycerium alcicorne is one of several popular species grown by collectors. Our plant is "popular" with several of our green tree frogs.