Platycerium elephantotis Schweinf.

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Platycerium elephantotis

Chowo River;
Mar 2015.
Photo: Steve Tolan

Platycerium elephantotis

Chowo River;
Mar 2015.
Photo: Steve Tolan

Platycerium elephantotis

Chowo River;
Mar 2015.
Photo: Steve Tolan

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Synonyms: Alcicornium angolense Welw. ex Underw.
Platycerium angolense Welw. ex Baker
Platycerium velutinum C. Chr.
Common names: Itala dawikulukulu (Lunda) Mutuntami (Lunda)
Frequency: Rare
Status: Native
Rhizome c. 1 cm. in diameter; rhizome scales awl-shaped, ciliate, up to 1.5 cm. long, brown with a central black stripe. Sterile fronds lower part thick and spongy, upper part membranous, c. 45 × 30 cm., erect, oblong in outline, overlapping at the cordate base and forming a large thalloid mass, prominently veined in the upper 2/3, margin entire to irregularly wavy at the apex, covered at first with grey stellate hairs, becoming hairless with age. Fertile fronds 50 × 25 cm., broadly obcuneate in outline, apex rounded, margin entire to subentire, coriaceous, subglabrous above, densely set below with rufous stellate hairs c. 1 mm. in diameter. Sporangia covering a large oval area of about 25 cm. wide below the frond apex, densely set with brown stellate hairs similar to those on the lamina.
Type location:
Sudan (South Sudan?)
Notes: The fertile frond is broadly cuneate, lacking the ‘stag horns’ of the commonly cultivated species.
Widespread in Zambia and globally, but may be threatened by habitat loss, and by harvesting for garden ornaments.
Derivation of specific name: eléphantos: elephant, otis: ear; an allusion to the very large and broad fronds.
Habitat: High level epiphyte on large trees in dry forests, at forest edges, in light shade or full sunlight.
Altitude range: 580 - 1240 m
Worldwide distribution: Tropical Africa from Sierra Leone and (South) Sudan to Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Angola.
Zambian distribution (Flora Zambesiaca): N,W,C,E
Zambian distribution (Provinces): Nw,Lp,N,E,Lk
Growth form(s): Epiphyte, lithophyte.
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Content last updated: Wednesday 8 April 2015

Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (1993). An annotated check-list of the pteridophytes of Malawi Kirkia 14(1) Page 90.

Da Silva, M.C., Izidine, S. & Amude, A.B. (2004). A preliminary checklist of the vascular plants of Mozambique. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 30 Sabonet, Pretoria Page 13.

Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983). The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 300 - 301. (Includes a picture).

Kornas, J. (1979). Distribution and ecology of the Pteridophytes in Zambia Polska Akademia Nauk Wydzial II Nauk Biologicznych Pages 75 - 76.

Phiri, P.S.M. (2005). A Checklist of Zambian Vascular Plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 32 Page 14.

Roux, J.P. (2001). Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report 13 Pages 96 - 97. (Includes a picture).

Roux, J.P. (2009). Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands Page 162.

Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970). Pteridophyta Flora Zambesiaca Page 145.

Other sources of information about Platycerium elephantotis:

Our websites:

Flora of Caprivi: cultivated Platycerium elephantotis
Flora of Malawi: Platycerium elephantotis
Flora of Mozambique: Platycerium elephantotis

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Platycerium elephantotis
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Platycerium elephantotis
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Platycerium elephantotis
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Platycerium elephantotis
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
iNaturalist: Platycerium elephantotis
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Platycerium elephantotis
JSTOR Plant Science: Platycerium elephantotis
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Platycerium elephantotis
Plants of the World Online: Platycerium elephantotis
Tropicos: Platycerium elephantotis
Wikipedia: Platycerium elephantotis

Copyright: Mike Bingham, Annette Willemen, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Mark Hyde, 2011-23

Bingham, M.G., Willemen, A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. and Hyde, M.A. (2023). Flora of Zambia: Species information: Platycerium elephantotis., retrieved 3 December 2023

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