by Robert Paul Hudson
This floating fern has large leaves and a very distinctive appearance unlike any more common specie of Ceratopteris that is widely used in the hobby. What very few people realize, including one proclaimed expert aquatic plant forum, this plant known as Antler fern is native to the USA! It is found throughout Florida and Louisiana, and was not an introduced specie. It is also native to Brazil, Ecuador, the West Indies, China, and Southeast Asia.
The leaves consist of sterile and non sterile leaves that differ sharply in appearance: the sterile leaf is usually broad basal lobes while the fertile leaf is finely disceted into long narrow ultimate segments. Transitional leaves are deeply pinnatifid.
The plant has a short fleshy stipe- (stipe def. a supporting stalk or stem like structure that supports the petiole). The stipe in some plants is decidely swollen.
This photo shows all the leaf types that can occur on the same plant. This is the plant at its full glory! Looking at this photo you can never mistake it for another Ceratopteris specie.
Ceratopteris pteridoides typically grows in swamps and ditches and is sometimes caught in mud flats from receding water where it will root in the mud. It can grow from partial shade to full sun and has no particular water parameter requirements. Growth is slow to moderate and it reproduces by adventitious plants. It is occasionally sold commercially as a pond plant. It is best grow in open top aquariums, and when the plant becomes to large you will probably want to discard them while keeping the plantlets. If you have an opportunity to get this plant, grab it! It is fascinating to watch it grow to maturity.