Angiopteris evecta – Giant Elephant Fern

The King Fern or Giant Elephant fern is a native of the palaeotropics famous for the large size of the individual fronds it produces.  Over much of the natural range the species is sporadic but not rare but in tropical Australia (Northern Territory) the species is considered vulnerable due to restricted distribution.  In contrast the species is invasive where it has been introduced in Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Jamaica.

Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research in Singapore reports “The starchy rhizome has been eaten as a starvation food in Papua New Guinea. Young fronds are also eaten in Ambon and the croziers are cooked as a vegetable in the Philippines. In traditional medicine, a decoction of the rhizome is used to stop bleeding during a miscarriage; the pounded stem is used to treat cough; and the young fronds are used as a poultice for swellings.”

Our plant of this species has grown slowly but steadily since its arrival in March and is now well established in its pot.  The consensus view seems to be that the species needs rich, moist to wet but well drained soil and partial shade to sun.  Currently our plant has rather curled leaves, I suspect due to rather low humidity in the greenhouse.  At present the plant is growing in a mix of orchid bark/seramis/John Innes no3 (2:2:1).

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About Alastair Culham

A professional botanist and biologist with an interest in promoting biological knowledge and awareness to all.
This entry was posted in Asia, Australia, Ferns, Madagascar, Palaeotropics, Species. Bookmark the permalink.

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