Elk Horn

The Elkhorn fern, occurs naturally in New Guinea, and along the coasts of Queensland and New South Wales. It is cultivated in many countries. It belongs in the family Polypodiaceae, which has 10 genera and 26 species in Australia.

The Elkhorn fern is an epiphyte, growing on the trunks and branches of trees. Each plant is composed of a mass of plantlets. A plantlet consists of a nest leaf 12-30 cm wide, lying against the bark of the host tree.

The nest leaves of neighbouring plantlets overlap one another. The nest leaves become brown and papery with age, and do not produce spores (they are sterile).

Fertile fronds 25-90 cm long protrude from each plantlet. Each frond divides into two segments a number of times along its length. Spores are produced on the undersurface of the end segments of each frond. The spore producing areas are coloured tan brown, and have the texture of velvet cloth.