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A number of plants bear the designation cultivar, usually abbreviated cv., but properly written as Genus species 'Cultivar', with the varietal name in single quotes.

There are countless cultivars of Platycerium bifurcatum, and the other Australian species, which seem to intergrade, or perhaps hybridize (actually, P. bifurcatum, P. hillii, P. veitchii, and P. willinckii are now considered subspecies or varieties of P. bifurcatum, so these are not actually hybrids.  There is much confusion surrounding these, since many plants look quite different when grown under different conditions.  Some cultivars are in the trade under more than one name.

Sometimes plants can not be easily assigned to a species.  Some appear to be hybrids.  True hybrids are rare.  The only confirmed platycerium hybrids I am aware of are P. x Mentelosii (superbum x stemaria), and P. x Elemaria (elephantotis x stemaria).  The fine cultivar P. 'Horne's Surprise' may be a hybrid.

A cultivar is simply a form which originated in cultivation.  Usually the designation is for a specific plant.  Sometimes the progeny are similar enough to the parent to warrant the designation.  This is the case with P. 'Charles Alford', which is either an unusual sport, or a hybrid.

I don't grow many cultivars, but many growers collect them to have a variety of different looking plants, which are not too difficult to grow.  Roy Vail discusses cultivars thoroughly in The Platycerium Hobbyists Handbook, available from the author, http://mena-ark.com/dbp/index.htm, or at www.amazon.com.

An interesting plant that volunteered in my greenhouse years ago, has been distributed under the name P. 'African Oddity'.  This African cultivar is very seasonal in its growth, often not initiating growth until summer.  Superficially similar to P. quadridichotomum, it is much easier to grow.  The spore patches are farther down the fertile fronds than they should be for P. quadridichotomum, and above the location for the other African/Madagascan species.

 

 

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Another African cultivar is P. 'Callard'.  In my photos, it resembles P. 'African Oddity', but it is quite different looking.  The arrangement of the spores is similar.

DNA analysis has shown this plant to have P. andinum in its background.  Whether it is a sport or hybrid is not yet known. 

It is a wonderful fern, and should find a place in any collection of staghorns.  Fairly easy to grow, it is a freely pupping variety.

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P. 'Charles Alford' is a large fern which came up in a spore sowing of P. wandae in the mid 1980's.  The late Dr. Barbara Joe Hoshizaki studied it, and believes it to be a sport of P. wandae  Her work was published in Fiddlehead Forum, the journal of the American Fern Society.

 

 

P. 'Charles Alford' has frills around the bud.  It makes a single, raised, flat, triangular spore lobe.  A small number of plants were grown from spores of the original plant, and they are essentially the same, thus the cultivar encompasses the original, and the progeny.

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  P. 'Little Will' is a strange plant, probably a P. willinckii.  It makes lots of small plants, but seldom makes shields.  It is often ratty, but can be interesting, covering a plaque or basket.

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P. 'Lucy' is a small fern, of African origin.  The fertile fronds are similar to P. alcicorne, but the shields form a basket.  Under my conditions, this plant has never gotten very large.  Its growth is seasonal.  Named in honor of our great little cat.

Lucille

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P. 'Alcicorne Majus', or P. 'Majus'  is a robust, fairly large growing staghorn.  It is unfortunate that someone decided to call it alcicorne, since it is clearly of Australian origin.  Its growth habit is similar to P. veitchii, with strongly erect fertile fronds.  The shields are lobed, but do not exhibit the long divisions of true P. veitchii.  It is probably a hybrid within the bifurcatum complex, possibly P. veitchii x P. hillii or P. bifurcatum.