Platycerium - Polypodiaceae

Platycerium elephantotis Schweinf.

Photo: BT. Wursten

Photo: S. Tolan

Photo: BT. Wursten

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: BT. Wursten

Photo: BT. Wursten






Platycerium angolense Welw. ex Baker
Alcicornium angolense (Baker) Underw.
Platycerium velutinum C. Chr.

Common name

Itala dawikulukulu Mutuntami


Rhizome c. 1 cm. in diameter; rhizome scales awl-shaped, ciliate, up to 1.5 cm. long, brown with a central black stripe. Fronds dimorphous. Sterile fronds lower part thick and spongy, upper part membranous, up to 75 x 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 up to 75 x 55 cm., broadly obtriangular 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 20-40 x 10-40 cm. below the frond apex, densely set with brown stellate hairs similar to those on the lamina.


The fertile frond is broadly cuneate, lacking the ‘stag horns’ of the commonly cultivated species.


eléphantos: elephant, otis: ear; an allusion to the very large and broad fronds.


Large trees in dry forests, mixed evergreen forest, at forest edges, woodland, on Raphia palms, Erythrina, in light shade or full sunlight.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Dem. Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan and South Sudan, Tanzania , Togo, Uganda, Zambia.

Growth form

Epiphytic, lithophytic.


  • 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.
  • 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. Strelitzia 23, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Page 162.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Page 145.
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  • Thardieu-Blot, M.L. (1964) Ptéridophytes vol.8.Flore du Gabon, Pages 196 - 198. (Includes a picture).
  • Verdcourt, B. (2001) Polypodiaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 2 - 3.