Australian Tropical Ferns and Lycophytes - Online edition

Platycerium superbum

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Close up of frond showing sori. © M. Fagg, APII
Close up of frond showing. © G. Sankowsky
Habit. © G. Sankowsky
Habit. © G. Sankowsky


Botanical name

Platycerium superbum de Jonch. & Hennipman

Link to Australian Plant Name Index for publication details and synonyms:


Rhizome short-creeping, clothed with chaffy lanceolate scales. Rhizome embeded in a mass of fronds and roots. Roots not proliferous. Nest fronds rounded-reniform in lower part, 60 cm or more diam., appressed to substrate and densely clothed with fawn stellate hairs; upper part flabellate, irregularly divided into elongate dichotomous spreading lobes. Foliage fronds usually paired, pendulous, up to 5 times forked, 30–200 cm long; base broadly cuneate. Sporangia in a single patch c. 10–50 cm wide, bulging into the sinus of first fork of foliage frond on its lower surface. Spores 70–85 µm long, 42.5–57.5 µm wide.


Occurs in NE and E QLD Rainforests from the Windsor Tablelands to SE NSW.

Habit and habitat

Epiphytic on large trees in mid- to upper-montane vine forest. Most commonly observed on the inland fringe of tableland rainforests.

Natural history

The nest fronds of this species form a large basket that catches rain and falling debris and funnels it into the root system. The nest fronds remain green at maturity.


Readily cultivated on a tree, rock, slab or in a pot of coarse material. Grows well in a garden or fernhouse in the tropics, subtropics and warm temperate areas. Plants should be kept on the dry side in cool weather.

Similar species

Key to Australian Platycerium spp.:

1a. Nests with a solitary growing point, fertile fronds with a single large sorus in the first sinus, nest-fronds forming a wide-spreading fan of lobes = Platycerium superbum

1b Nests forming a colony with several growing points, fertile fronds with sori on the penultimate lobes and not in the sinuses, nest fronds not forming a wide spreading fan of lobes = 2.

2a. Nest fronds with an entire upper margin and not forming a basket = Platycerium hillii

2b. Nest fronds with a lobed upper margin and forming a basket = 3

3a. Plants with a dense covering of stellate hairs, foliage fronds white below obscuring venation, nest fronds drying to a mushroom pink or grey, upper lobes narrow and finger like = Platycerium veitchii

3b. Plants with sparse covering of stellate hairs, veins vissible on lower surface of foliage fronds, nest fronds drying to a coppery brown, upper lobes not as above =Platycerium bifurcatum

Citation of Australian Tropical Ferns and Lycophytes

Field AR, Quinn CJ, Zich FA (2022) Australian Tropical Ferns and Lycophytes. (accessed online INSERT DATE).

Field AR, Quinn CJ, Zich FA (2022) ‘Platycerium superbum’, in Australian Tropical Ferns and Lycophytes. (accessed online INSERT DATE).

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