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Family Polypodiaceae
Serpent fern
Microsorum scolopendria (Burmann f.) Copel.

Scientific names Common names
Drynaria phymatodes (L.) Fee Creeping fern (Engl.)
Drynaria vulgaris (C. Presl.) J. Sm. Monarch fern (Engl.)
Microsorum scolopendria (Burm.) Copel. Serpent fern (Engl.)
Polypodiium scolopendrium Burmann f. Wart fern (Engl.)
Polypodiium phymatodes Linn.  
Pleopeltis phymatodes Moore  
Phymatodes phymatodes (L.) Maxon  
Phymatodes scolopendria (Burm.) Ching  
Phymatosorus scolopendria (Burm.f.) Pic. Serm.  
Liu jue (Chin.)  

Other vernacular names
JAPANESE: Oknawa ura-boshi
SAMOAN: Lau 'auta, Lau magamaga, Alofilima.
VIETNAMESE: Ráng o chìm luoi hươu

Serpent fern is an epiphyte with wide, creeping and glabrous rhizomes. Stipes are scattered, 5- to 40 centimeters long, and naked. Fronds are shiny green, variable in size, from simple lanceolate to deeply pinnatifid, 10 to 40 centimeters long. Costae are prominent, but the venation is hardly visible. Sori are very large, shallowly immersed and conspicuous on the upper surface, in single rows along the main veins, or scattered, but not numerous.

- Commonly distributed in the Philippines, growing in the crown or trunks of trees and on rocks along streams, at low and medium altitudes.
- Also found from Polynesia to Africa.

- Contains glycirrhizin and saponin.
- Study yielded ecdysone and 20-hydroxyecdysone, makisterones A and C, inokosterone and amarasterone A. (See study below)

Considered diaphoretic, aromatic and aperative.

Parts used
Roots, branches, leaves.

- In Indo-China, the Annamites are reported to use the young leaves of the fern for chronic diarrhea.
- Young fronds are spread on the sped to keep off bed bugs.
- In Hawaii used to scent tapa cloth, to adorn hula altars and dancers, and used for making lei.

Ecdysteroids: Study showed M scolopendria is an excellent source of ecdysone and 20-hydroxyecdysone. It also contains significant amounts of makisterones A and C, inokosterone and amarasterone A. The ecdysteroids are considered to be responsible for some of the medicinal properties.


Last Updated November 2012

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Ecdysteroids from the medicinal fern Microsorum scolopendria (Burm. f.) / Eva Snogan et al / Phytochemical Analysis • Volume 18 Issue 5, Pages 441 - 450/ DOI 10.1002/pca.1000 /
Phymatosorus scolopendria (Burm. f.) Pic. Serm. / Chinese names and synonyms / Catalogue of Life, China
A Review on the Potential Uses of Ferns / M. Mannar Mannan, M. Maridass and B.Victor / Ethnobotanical Leaflets 12: 281-285. 2008.
Microsorum scolopendria / National Tropical Botanical Garden

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