P. elephantotis was first named P. angolense but was changed at a later stage. It refers to the “elephant ear like” appearance of the fronds. The shields have prominent veins like an elephant ear and it is also the only Platycerium with rounded fertile fronds.
Platycerium elephantotis is native to eastern and central Africa excluding the low lying Congo basin. I have heard of localities as far South as “Dondo” in Mozambique. Unfortunately their numbers are drastically being reduced due to deforestation.
The Natural distribution of Platycerium elephantotis indicates that it has a wet and warm growing season with a cooler, drier dormant season. In the beginning of the wet season (Spring) it starts the first flush of sterile or shield fronds. They are prominently veined and re-curve forward to create an open top. They can be as tall as 400mm. The form of the fronds indicate that they are utilized for catching up water and falling plant debris. After the shields are fully grown the fertile fronds appear. They are pendulous with rounded frond tips. The spore patches are situated in the forward most third on the bottom of the frond. When the parent plant is big enough they tend to pup at the edges of the shield in a horizontal line, forming rings of plants with the open tops.