Spotlight on Nassau Gardens

Staghorn Ferns in Nassau County

This enormous Staghorn fern was started on a board about 24 years ago. The one on the right is in a plastic milk carton filled with spagnum moss.

Staghorn ferns are part of the Polypodiaceae family and the genus Platycerium.  These ferns are from the tropics and native to Africa, northern Australia and Southeast Asia. Staghorn ferns are actually epiphytes, or air plants.  This specific group of plants have roots which do not grow in soil. Other common epiphytes are related to Spanish moss, ball moss or some bromeliads. Staghorn ferns love the summer heat and rain but should not be grown in full sun. When there is not much rain they need to be watered.  Because they are sensitive to temperatures below freezing they must be brought inside or wrapped with material during cold winters.

There are 2 distinct leaf forms. The large green pronged fronds grow from the base of the plant. The small flat leaves, called shields, cover the root structure and take up water and nutrients. The green round young shields are buds that start a new landscape plant.

What an unusual, lovely plant for our Nassau gardens.  For more complete information read the University of Florida publication titled: "Staghorns at a Glance."