These ferns get their moisture and nutrients from the air and rain, which is why the fern in the photo is suspended in the air without a pot or soil. So, generally, they grow in moisture rich environments. Staghorn Ferns are native to the Philippines, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Australia, Madagascar, Africa, and America. I grew the pictured fern right in my Florida backyard.
The plant produces two distinctly different leaves called fronds… basal and foliar. Basal fronds, often called “sterile fronds,” are rounded thickened fronds which grow in overlapping layers. The upper parts of basal fronds may be lobed or divided and stand erect. This upright form collects water, fallen leaves, and plant debris. These products eventually break down, releasing nutrients necessary for growth. Foliar fronds, also called “fertile fronds,” are either erect or pendant and may be divided into lobed or strap-shaped divisions. Foliar fronds produce brownish reproductive structures called sporangia on the underside of their fronds. These sporangia hold spores which, when germinated, form new plants.
Both basal and foliar fronds are covered to varying degrees, with small star-shaped hairs called stellate. These hairs give them a silvery cast or colored tone. These hairs provide some protection from insect pests and conserve moisture.