This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(Greek, serpent tongue). Poly-podidceas. A large group of tropical ferns, with creeping rootstocks and simple leaves.
The sporangia cover the entire under surface of the fertile leaves which are usually much smaller than the Sterile ones. Nearly all the species are free-veined but a few have netted venation. - There are 80-100 species in the tropics of both hemispheres. They were formerly included under Acrostichum. All require warm-house treatment, an abundance of water at the roots, and an open porous compost.
Fig. 1386. Elaphoglossum villosum. (X 1/3) a. Veins all free.
B. Surface of leaves densely scaly throughout.
c. Texture thin, flaccid.
1. villosum, J. Smith. Fig. 1386. Sterile blades 6-9 in. long; fertile leaves scarcely more than half as large, both with abundant slender, dark brown scales. Mex. and W. Indies. - Dwarf, variable.
cc. Texture thick, leathery.
2. hirtum, C. Chr. (Acrostichum squamosum, Swartz). Sterile blades 6-12 in. long, the fertile narrower, on longer stems, both surfaces matted with bright reddish brown linear or lanceolate scales. Tropics of both hemispheres.
3. muscosum, Moore. Sterile blades 6-12 in. long, fertile much shorter; upper surface slightly scaly, the lower densely matted with ovate, rusty scales. Tropics of both hemispheres.
S. 1:211 (as Acrostichum) . - Very distinct in habit, and an interesting greenhouse species.
bb. Surface of leaves slightly scaly. 4. petiolatum, Urban (Acrostichum viscosum, Swartz). Sterile blades 6-12 in. long, narrowed gradually at the base; the fertile shorter, on longer stalks; texture leathery, the surfaces somewhat viscid. Tropics of both hemispheres.
5. pilosum, Moore. Blades flexuous, 6-8 in. long, 3/4in. wide, with tufts of star-like scales beneath; texture herbaceous. Mex. to Colombia. - Chiefly of botanical interest.
bbb. Surface of leaves not scaly; texture leathery. c. Margins of leaves thick, cartilaginous.
6. simplex, Schott. Sterile blades 4-12 in. long, with a very acute point, the lower portion gradually narrowed into a short, somewhat margined stalk. W. Indies to Brazil.
7. conforme, Schott. Sterile blades 2-9 in. long, with a bluntish point and wedge-shaped or spatulate base; fertile leaves narrower. Tropics of both hemispheres.
cc. Margins of leaves not thickened.
8. fiaccidum, Moore. Sterile blades 6-12 in. long, with very acute point, the lower portion gradually narrowed to the short stalk; fertile leaves on stalks 3-4 in. long. S. Amer. - Of botanical interest only.
aa. Veins uniting to form a network.
b. Surface of leaves densely clothed with narrow scales. (Hymenodium.)
9. crinitum, Christ. Elephant-ear Fern. Fig. 1387. Blades 10-18 in. long, 4-8 in. wide, on densely scaly stalks; fertile leaves smaller, on shorter stalks. W. Indies. F.S. 9:936 (as H. crinitum). - Omit sand in potting, and avoid over-watering.
Fig. 1387. Elaphoglossum crinitum.
bb. Surface of leaves mostly smooth, 6-15 in. long.
10. reticulatum, Gaud. Blades on distinct stalks, with wedge-shaped bases, 1 1/2 in. wide; veins forming copious meshes. (Chrysodium.) Hawaiian Isls. - Of botanical interest only.
11. gorgoneum, Brack. Blades tapering gradually downward to the short stalks, 2-3 in. wide; veins forming meshes only near the margin. (Aconiopteris.) Hawaiian Isls. - Of little decorative value.
L. M. Underwood. R. C. Benedict.†