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Platycerium Desvaux


Description from Flora of China

Plants epiphytic or occasionally epilithic, of very striking appearance, solitary or in clusters. Rhizome thick, shortly creeping, concealed by roots and fronds; scales large, basifixed to peltate, mostly with a thickened dark central portion, margin ciliate, concolorous or pale brown; fronds clustered, extremely dimorphic; lamina fleshy, leathery, covered with stellate hairs when young; costa none, main veins conspicuous, dichotomously branched, usually several on each lobe or branch, minor veins visible or concealed, much anastomosing with free included veinlets. Basal fronds persistent, base strongly appressed to substrate, entire or forked several times; fertile foliage fronds in pairs, simple to variously dichotomously forked, erect to pendulous. Sori forming large soral patches, paraphyses many, stellate. Spores 64 per sporangium, or 8 (P. ridleyi Christ), monolete, smooth. x = 37.

Platycerium bifurcatum (Cavanilles) C. Christensen and P. alcicorne Desvaux are often cultivated. Plants of this splendid tropical genus are much sought for horticultural purposes; the wild population of P. wallichii in Yunnan is almost extinct. It is a nationally protected plant in China.

Platycerium together with Pyrrosia forms a natural monophyletic clade in Polypodiaceae which has long been recognized by the characteristic stellate hairs and thick fleshy lamina. Molecular phylogeny studies also support this relationship.

Fifteen species: SE Asia (eight species), Africa and Madagascar (six species), one isolated species in South America; one species in China.

(Authors: Zhang Xianchun (张宪春); Michael G. Gilbert)


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