Elkhorn fern

This plant is no has-been

Ask your elderly parents or neighbours: in the past the elkhorn fern was a very popular houseplant. And just like other green classics it’s making an eye-catching comeback. We can quite see why!


Can you see where the name ‘elkhorn fern’ derives from? The long drooping dark green leaves are reminiscent of an elk’s antlers. The leaves have a thin furry layer to counter evaporation. There are almost twenty different forms of the elkhorn fern, which is also related to the oak fern. 


The Latin name of the elkhorn fern is ‘platycerium’, which is derived from the Greek words ‘platys’ meaning ‘smooth, wide, flat’ and ‘kerasof’ meaning ‘horn’. In nature stags and their antlers are seen as a symbol of the circle of life. Stags shed their antlers in spring to make way for a new set. Decay and rebirth. That definitely makes it a plant pot bursting with inspiration! 


Elkhorn fern grows in the tropical jungles of Asia, Australia, Africa and South America. You can find them as an epiphyte on the bark of trees high above the ground. This is also why they prefer to hang. Elkhorn fern does best as a hanging plant, but will not complain if that’s not possible right now.