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By Louwrens Opperman & Roy Vail

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Cyathea dregei





Growing ferns from spore the easy way.

Keith's Fern Page


Ferns for sale in the USA  (only) Charles Alford Plants  

1645 9th St. S.W.
Vero Beach, FL  32962 USA Contact Charles 


The back ground images were sketched by my farther, Gert Opperman


Platycerium stemmaria

(Pronounced   ste-MAR-e-a)

The Name

     I have no idea why this species is named "stemmaria."


Hennipman and Roos reported that Platycerium stemmaria is a "high epiphyte (up to 40 m high) of rather humid types of forests" and that is found on the islands off the central west coast of Africa.  Its distribution includes much of central tropical Africa, but it does not extend to the west coast.  In much of its range it is the same as Platycerium elephantotis, except Platycerium elephantotis is found along parts of the west coast.


Platycerium stemmaria is a pretty staghorn, not difficult to grow.  It can not take drying out completely, but does just fine when over-watered. It forms pups easily.  It is the only Platycerium that, when kept moist, will have roots that grow out onto the surface of a plaque, then form a pup at the tip.

Platycerium stemmaria is extremely variable, depending on how much light it receives.  Under low light the tops of the shields become very tall, the fertile fronds are short, 6 to 10 inches, and the plant becomes a dark shiny green.  Although the spore patches develop, they stay tan and do not mature.

With somewhat more light its color is less dark, due to more stellate hairs, the fertile fronds become longer, and the spore patches mature to a dark brown. With high light it is a very different plant.  It is gray-green. The fertile fronds become long and strap-like, so much so that they look almost like Platycerium andinum.  (See my book, Fig. 95)  This has given rise to plants named "long form," but these will revert to normal when the light conditions are changed. Platycerium stemmaria is considered cold sensitive.  It is best to keep it above 50 degrees F.  If subjected to lower temperatures it may produce a few deformed fertile fronds.  (See my book, Fig. 98)


I have seen no habitat photos of Platycerium stemmaria.  It would be very helpful to have some.  We need much more information on the environment of this species. Platycerium stemmaria is not a difficult species, however it should not be your first Platycerium.  It deserves a place in every Platycerium collection.  Put on a ball of moss, it should become a very pretty cluster. Try growing separate plants under various amounts of light to see how different they become. 




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