An eye for staghorn ferns
Foong Seong Soh developed a passion for staghorn ferns because of the plant’s unique characteristics.
PLANT hobbyists are now using staghorn ferns for garden landscaping or as ornamental plants. Plant lover Foong Seong Soh simply loves staghorn ferns and has turned the garden of his house along Anderson Lane, Ipoh, into a staghorn paradise. The ferns are mounted on boards or driftwood cork plaques, attached to palm trees and flower pots. Many of the fern are exclusive and rare.
Foong said that staghorn ferns cost anything from RM80 to several thousand ringgit.
Those interested in rare exotic ferns will not mind the price as the ferns bring an added air of richness or wealth for the year of the Ox.
Any horn-like feature or anything that looks like a horn is considered auspicious, Foong added. The plant gets it name from the horn of the deer and is commonly called tanduk rusa. The fern is believed to posses medicinal properties.
Visitors to Foong’s staghorn garden are captivated by his extensive collection of the fern numbering in the hundreds.
Foong claimed he had not come across any other hobbyist who could match his collection of staghorn ferns.
Staghorn ferns belong to the genus platycerium and according to Foong, there are 18 species but with many hybrids which are a source of fascination to collectors.
Foong developed his passion for the ferns some 10 years ago because of the plant’s unique characteristics.
Staghorn fern is very unusual as it is the only plant that has two different types of leaves in the same plant, Foong explained.
The leaves at the base of the plant are known as shield leaves or fronds, while the other fronds protruding out are fertile fronds that contain spores.
Some ferns are huge, exotic and extraordinary. There are ferns with leaves that look like ripples or waves, while the fronds of the Lemoinei species is like velvet to the touch.
Staghorns, Foong said, were not parasitic but epiphytic plants.
His collection includes the Stemaria and Elephantotis species from Africa, Hillii from Australia, Willinchkii from Indonesia and their hybrids.
“The staghorn ferns is a protected species. I germinate my ferns from the spores,” said Foong.
Apart from the ferns he has at home, Foong also has several of them at his nursery along Jalan Lee Meng Hin in Meglembu. His wife, Van, also a staghorn fern lover, tends to the ferns at the nursery.