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Platycerium bifurcatum


common name: Deer antler fern, alcicorne 

Scientific name: Platycerium bifurcatum

Synonym: P. alcihorn

Family: Polypodiaceae

Gender: Platycerium

Plant Type:  Perennial

Origin: Madagascar and Solomon Islands


Description: Platycerians are epiphytic ferns originating from humid tropical forests that adapt well, if gradually acclimatized, to the interior environment. They all have two types of fronds: one, at the base of the plant, which has a shield shape and clings to the support of the plant; the others, which -spread or hang down, and have a shape like the antlers of deer. 

The lower frond is sterile (incapable of producing spores) and its main function in nature - apart from holding the plant to its support - is to capture the debris that falls from the branches of the trees where the plant lives and that can be transformed into elements nutritious. Over time, this frond becomes brown, with a papery appearance, and a new, very green one begins to form to replace it. The other fronds, shaped like antlers, are more decorative. Usually several of these fronds are born, fleshy, dark green and covered with a thin, white and fluffy indument. As adults, they have brown spores gathered in dense clusters on the underside and mainly concentrated at the ends of the fronds. The fluffy, white indument lends the fronds a silver-green hue. All these plants do best when grown on pieces of trunk or root of tree ferns (osmunda). 

P. bifurcatum (also known as P. alcicorne) is, among all the species of the genus Platycerium, the easiest to grow indoors. The single, sterile frond is constantly being replaced, the new one appearing as a small silvery dot on top of the previous one and gradually spreading over the dry, brown, papery surface of the old frond. The new «shield», which when young is mint green, gradually turns brown. 

The fertile fronds growing from the center of the barren can reach a length of 1 m, and each terminal bifurcated end can measure about 20 cm in length. These long fronds are generally semi-erect, while the forked ends hang down slightly. 

Environment: Suitable for use in hot interiors.

Flowering: Insignificant despite being very fragrant, they must be removed.

Temperature: Platycerans appreciate temperatures of up to 24°C as long as the degree of humidity remains high. When grown in hot environments, plants should be misted or sprayed once a day. The ideal temperature for summer is around 21°C, and the minimum for winter is around 13°C. 

Light: Platyceria develop well when exposed to strong, albeit indirect, light.

Watering: During spring and summer, water enough to fully wet the mixture, but allow it to dry almost completely before watering again. During the rest period water much more sparsely, just enough to slightly moisten the mixture. Since the sterile frond often covers the surface of the mixture, it may become impossible to water the platyceria from above. The way to solve the problem is to immerse the root in a large container of water. During the period of active growth leave the plant in the water for about fifteen minutes with each watering. During the rest period, do not keep the plant in water for more than one to two minutes at a time. Whether the plant is in an active or resting phase, do not put it back into the water unless clearly necessary, which you can notice if the fronds become excessively pendulous or if there is an obvious loss of weight.

Fertilizing: It is rarely necessary to fertilize; during the period of active growth you should apply two or three times to adult plants – especially those grown in bark – an ordinary liquid fertilizer . For proper fertilization, the piece of bark where the roots are located must be immersed for a few minutes in water in which the fertilizer has been dissolved in the proper proportions. 



Advices: Although platyceria are not very subject to pests, mealybugs sometimes infest the underside of the fronds. The treatment consists of an application of denatured alcohol, made with a thin brush over each insect.

Clean the fronds by exposing them to light rain, in a moderate climate zone or by spraying them. Never clean them with a cloth or sponge, as this would remove the downy fur and damage the fronds. It is also not advisable to leave water on the fronds


Platycerium bifurcatum

SKU: P1104
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