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Platycerium holttumii with Ophioglossum pendulum


  Reggie Whitehead been waiting some time for this phenomena to happen.  It is noted that if you grow enough ferns in your collection, you are bound to get sporophytes growing on other ferns.  However, this sporophyte, Ophioglossum pendulum, that was unseen until it emerged from the shield fronds of Platycerium holttumii, is a welcomed sight.  This P. holttumii is approximately 30 years old, one of the first staghorns in my collection.  I have only been growing O. pendulum, the Ribbon fern, for approximately 8 years.  So, with the introduction of the Ribbon Fern to my collection (on my screened patio in South Florida), as spores were naturally released from the Ophioglossum, they would inevitably land somewhere hospitable to grow.  Apparently, the shield (base) fronds of this staghorn, proved to be suitable.  Growing O. pendulum from spores is a tricky proposition.  It is believed that these spores require darkness and a mycorrhizal fungus in order to germinate and survive.  Both of these fern species are of Southeast Asian origin.  In the jungles of S. E. Asia,  I have seen O. pendulum growing comfortably in the base of Asplenium nidus, and in another staghorn, Platycerium coronarium, I was unaware that it could also grow in P. holttumii.  My travels have taken me to many parts of Southeast Asia and I have seen other staghorns in the wild,  I have not seen P. holtumii in the wild (yet).

    The spotting of this sight this morning (November 30, 2006), was indeed a happy surprise.  There appears to be 6 strands of Ophioglossum pendulum breaking through the shield frond of the staghorn.  In my collection, I have three forms of O. pendulum:  a narrow form, a medium-width form, and a wide form (1 to 3 inches width).  I am not sure which form this emerging species will be, the "ribbons" are too young.  I will need to monitor the growth of this Ribbon fern on P. holttumii.