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This large, interesting genus occurs throughout the tropics, with most species in the Americas.

Although many of these are rather plain, the genus includes some of the most beautiful ferns.  Some, such as Elaph. crinitum, are very difficult to grow, requiring constant high humidity, and moderate temperatures.

While these are probably plants for the greenhouse, the species I grow have proven fairly adaptable.

Elaphoglossum backhausianum is a fairly challenging fern.  It has decorative scales along the margin, and the light green, paddle-shaped fronds can become fairly large.  Best in moderate temperatures, with good air movement, and high humidity.  Currently unavailable.

Elaph. crinitum is needs moderate temperatures, and constant, high humidity.  It is very beautiful when well grown, but most growers have difficulty with it.  The plants in the picture are spore-grown, by an Ecuadorean nursery, and may prove more adaptable.  Currently unavailable.

Elaph. herminieri is one of the most beautiful plants in cultivation.  The pendant fronds are an iridescent blue-green, especially when grown in low light.  Surprisingly adaptable.


Elaph. metallicum, from Peru, is another fern with amazing color.  When grown in good conditions, it will be very dark, iridescent blue-gray.  Once established, it is tolerant of some neglect.

Elaph. nigrescens, a tough little species from Brazil, is suitabable for mounting.  It will forgive occasional lapses in watering.


  Elaph. (Peltapteris) peltata is more challenging for most growers.  I am told it carpets the ground in many parts of the tropics, often at high elevation.  Most successful growers grow it on a slab of tree fern, laying on its side, with a little moss to hold moisture.  Eventually the tree fern will break down, and the plant can be lost very quickly, so it is wise to start new ones occasionally.


Below is a form from Mexico.  A little coarser and larger than the common form.

The plant below is a form with entire leaves, also called forma standleyi.  More difficult and slower growing than the common type.