This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
This remarkably strange but interesting- plant, of which our illustration represents a full-grown specimen in miniature, taken from life, is one of the family of Ferns, belonging to the class Crypto-gamia. According to the present state of botanical nomenclature, Ferns are divided and subdivided into various groups; the present species is one of the representatives of the tribe Acrostichece, an. denominated Platycerium, in allusion to a broad horn, which the fronds resemble. There are only three species belonging to: genus at present in cultivation, all epiphytical,* attaching themselves to rocks or trees in their native localities, in moist situations. and existing upon the decayed vegetable matter formed with their own fronds and roots. They have a very striking appearance, and are highly ornamental, from the horizontal and pendulous position of the fertile fronds contrasting with the more erect habit of the sterile ones and the horn-like process of the disc. Without fertile fronds, in an early or more advanced state of development, the plant very much resembles in appearance a marvellous great lichen or fungus.
* Adhering to other plants for support, and vegetating amidst the decayed vegetable matter that is collected at the foot or on the trunks of all tree's growing in a hot humid climate.
The two fronds, as represented issuing from the centre, are fertile ones, produced annually; the fructification is situated in the sinus, in a large triangular patch, of a rich brown colour on the under surface. When these fronds are mature, they fall spontaneously from the plant, being attached by an articulation, and are of no further service. The upper portions are produced alternately, right and left, covering the entire surface of the side as they expand; the one shewn in the figure is expanding towards the left hand. When arrived at maturity they become brown, ultimately fall and decay, for the support of the subsequent ones that are forming the future plant.
The present species was introduced into England, in a living state, in 1843, from the Illawara district in New South Wales, by J. T. Bidwill, Esq.; but long before that period it was known by dried specimens. It is cultivated by being attached to a board suspended in the shady humid atmosphere of an ordinary plant stove. The plant is at present about three feet in diameter, very healthy, and growing vigorously.
Kew, Jan. 11, 1850. J. Houlston.