Platycerium superbum – Staghorn Fern.
This is a large native Australian fern which is epiphytic on trees and occasionally rocks.
The short, creeping, little branched rhizomes are covered in fine rootlets and protected by dead leaves.
They produce two types of fronds.
Nest fronds, the first to grow, are sterile.
They are a pale grey-green, round or kidney-shaped, up to 1 m across and 2 m high.
The lower part is densely covered in pale brown hairs when young.
Root-like structures around the lower edge hold the frond tightly against the trunk.
The upper margin is fan-shaped or has long forked lobes which spread out to catch water and organic debris.
A new nest frond grows over the old one before it turns brown and dies so there may be 2 green ones at the same time.
There is a frill around the new bud.
Fertile fronds are a light grey-green and up to 2 m long.
They arise from the lower part of the nest frond and spread out then droop.
There are usually 2 fronds, with wedge-shaped bases that fork up to 5 times into narrow end lobes.
They may also be twisted.
There is only one spore patch on the underside of each fertile frond and it is situated at the first fork.
Until the spores are mature they are protected by a layer of stellate scales.
The tips of the lobes are sterile.
This fern does not produce plantlets (pups).