Platycerium andinum is the only staghorn
naturally grown in the Americas. It's common name is American
Staghorn and comes form Peru and Bolivia. These photos are from the valley of the Rio Hualtqaga in Peru.
The forest, called the Tropical Dry Forest of Peru, is in danger of
being cut down as land is converted to farming acreage and man's need to
expand. The size of the forest is estimated to be only 12,000
P. andinums are tall slender staghorns. The shield fronds form very distinctive crown like tops and when the
fern is well established around the tree, it looks like a crown from all
sides. The andinum grows new shield fronds once a year in the
winter and then they turn brown. The shield fronds, are thick, possibly
1/8th of an inch thick. The shape of the bottom of the shield
frond is like a bowl. The vertical portion of the shield frond has
hexagonal shaped veins, similar to a P. madagascariense but shallow.
Some writers say it looks like a large P. quadridichotomum from
Madagascar. Fertile fronds droop down with many forks and the
spore patches tend to be in the center of the
fertile fronds and not the tips which, continue to grow.
New pups tend go form horizontally from the bud and
eventually form a circle around the host tree. Unlike the P. coronarium,
the rhizome does not split and grow horizontally. The pups from
from roots and grow a
crown like the P. coronarium. It is estimated that it takes 10 to 20 years for a crown to form in
the forest. But a hobbyist grower can mount several small plants
around a pole and form a nice crown is less time. When mounted on
a vertical post or limb, the fern grows around the post and the shield
fronds form the shape of a crown.
Platycerium andinum does not like full sun, or great amounts of
water. It's native environment averages 35 inches of rain a year
with March the wettest month with8.2 inches of rain. Some months
get very little rain. It grows best on trees with rough bark like
the quinilla tree, but not palms.
It can be grown on plaques of wood. When mounted on a vertical
post or limb, the fern grows pups horizontally around the tree and the shield fronds form
the shape of a crown. In cultivation, pups will occasionally form
above the main plant
Platycerium andinum is one of the more difficult Platycerium to raise
Roy Vail treats Pl. andinum much like P. elephantotis giving it
bright light, a rather loose moss, evenly moist, but not wet. P.
andinum is particularly prone to rhizome rot when small.
Its closest relative are the African P. elephantotis, and the
Madagascar P. quadridichotomum. Hennipman and Roos consider it to
be closer to P. quadridichotomum, because the spore patch location is