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Tropical North Queensland, Australia.
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Elkhorn Fern

Elkhorn Tree

Photo: C & D Frith
Australian Tropical Rainforest Life

Elkhorn Fern: Platycerium bifurcatum

  • This fern is a cluster of many individuals. The shield fronds are deeply lobed, whilst the fertile fronds stand semi-erect or nodding, becoming pendulous with age.
  • The base of the fertile frond is slender and narrowly wedge-shaped, whilst the upper half of the frond forks out two or three times.
  • The sporangial areas are at the tips of the fertile fronds. It has drooping segments that are strap-shaped and up to 30cm long and 3cm wide.
  • Plantlets, called "pups",  grow from buds on the outer lower regions on the shield fronds thus allowing the species to grow in huge masses. Sometimes so large that their host is unable to support them, hence crashing to the ground. Other epiphytes may be seen growing in the clumps too.
  • The Elkhorn is the most common and widespread of the fern species in Australia. It is able to grow in a variety of habitats from high in the trees of the rainforest to areas of swamp and open forest. It often grows in large masses on boulders and rock faces in New South Wales, and on trees in Queensland.
  • It is very easily grown as far south as Melbourne. (can take a light frost)
For additional research information on the Elkhorn Fern and their care visit: 

Additional Information:

  • This particular staghorn fern is found in tropical Asia and Australia, but is commonly cultivated.
  •  There is usually more than one base leaf. It's leaves are thin and split into two, then two again, then two again, and so on, and thus earn the scientific epithet of bifurcatum.
  • Strangely enough, it often gets called the 'Elkhorn Fern', although it's pattern of bifurcating leaves means it looks less like the antlers of the European Elk (same as the American Moose, Alces alces, which are not bifurcating, but rather many fingers from a solid base), than some other staghorns.

    Script: Courtesy of  Damon Ramsey BSc.(Zool) Biologist Guide

Additional Elkhorn Fern Photos


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Lake Eacham, Atherton Tablelands
Tropical North Queensland, Australia.
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