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Family Lycopodiaceae
Sinang padayao
(Thunb. ex Murray) Trevis.
She zu shi shan

Huperzia phlegmaria (L) Rothm.

Scientific names Common names
Huperzia myriophyllifolia (Hayata) Holub Kodlala (Igorot)
Huperzia selago var. serrata (Thunb.) A.Love & D.Love Sinang padayao (Bontoc)
Huperzia serrata (Thunb. ex Murray) Trevis Chinese club moss (Engl.)
Huperzia serrata f. intermedia (Nakai) Ching Toothed clubmoss (Engl.)
Huperzia serrata var. intermedia (Nakai) Satou  
Huperzia serrata var. myriophyllifolia (Hayata) H.M.Chang  
Huperzia serrata var. paucidentata (Sugim.) Satou  
Lycopodium khasianum D.D.Pant & P.S.Pandey  
Lycopodium sargassifolium Liebm.  
Lycopodium serratum Thunb.  
Lycopodium serratum f. intermedium Nakai  
Lycopodium serratum var. minor D.D.Pant & P.S.Pandey  
Lycopodium serratum var. myriophyllifolium Hayata  
Lycopodium serratum var. thunbergii Makino  
Urostachys myriophyllifolius (Hayata) Herter  
Urostachys serratus (Thunb.) Herter  
Urostachys serratus var. japoniconeotropicus Herter ex Nessel  
Urostachys serratus var. sachalinensis Nessel  
Hibiscus macrophyllus Roxb. ex Hornem is accepted. KEW: Plants of the World Online

Other vernacular names
CHINA: She zu shi shan, She zu cao.
JAPAN: Tougesiba.
VIETNAM: Nbo ri.

Gen info
- Huperzia is a genus of lycophyte plants, sometimes known as firmosses or fir clubmosses. The genus was originally placed in the related genus Lycopodium, from which it differs in having undifferentiated sporangial leave, and sporangia not formed into apical cones. (3)
- The genus Huperzia was created by Johann Jakob Bernhardi in 1801, who separated Huperzia from Lycopodium.
- The PPG I classification placed 25 species in the genus Huperzia. As of January 2023, World Ferns listed 61 species, noting "many species still need transfer into other split genera". (3)

Huperzia serrata is a terrestrial, moss-like, repeatedly forked herb with serrate leaves and a ragged appearance. Stem erect, decumbent at the base, 3-15(-21) cm × 1-2 mm (not including the leaves), 1-3 times dichotomously branched, green but the older parts yellower. Leaves reflexed near the base, spreading in the younger parts, spirally in many ranks, petiolate; lamina elliptical to lanceolate, 7-17(-30) mm × (1-)2-4(-5) mm, base narrowed, margins deeply irregularly serrate or double serrate, apex abruptly acuminate, deep-green, thin chartaceous, costa distinctly raised above; between the leaves trilobed gemmae may be present. True strobili are absent; sporangia scattered, neither in distinct zones, nor only terminally, on stem parts that are only little different from the vegetative parts of the stem; sporophylls lanceolate, 3-5 mm long; sporangia lunate, wider than the sporophyll bases. Spores trilete, distinctly triangular, concave, truncate. (2)

- Found from India, the eastern Himalayas to Korea, and through Japan, Taiwan and Indo-china to Indonesia, the Philippines, Polynesia, the Sandwich Islands and Haiti. A secondary disjunct population exists in wet mountain forests in Mexico, Cuba, and Hispaniola. (2)

- Studies have suggested nootropic, anti-inflammatory, memory boosting, neuroprotective, cognitive enhancing, acetylcholinesterase inhibitory properties.

Parts used
Whole plant



- No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- In traditional Chinese medicine used for treatment and prevention of dementia.
- Qiancengta (jin bu huang), a traditional Chinese medicine made from whole plant of club moss H. serrata, has been used for various ailments, including contusions, swellings, schizophrenia, myasthenia gravis, and organophosphate poisoning. (5)

Huperzine A (HupA) / Neuroprotective Effects:
Review reports on Lycopodium alkaloids, and focuses on huperzine A (HupA), a promising therapeutic option for several acute and chronic disorders. Hup A is the foremost Lycopodium alkaloid isolated from Huperzia serrata. The purified alkaloid has been used for neutoprotective effects. It is well tolerated in humans, even a doses well above required clinically. Hup A has been studied for treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and age-related memory decline. Studies have suggested HupA is a more favorable AChE inhibitor than those conventionally used and already approved for AD treatment. On-going studies on HupA suggest potential against chemical weapons (nerve gases), epilepsy, myastheria gravis, neuropathy, and schizophrenia. (4) HupA is a potent, highly specific and reversible inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase (AChE). Compared with tacrine, donezepil, and rivastigmine, HupA has better penetration through the BBB (blood-brain-barrier), higher oral bioavailability,  and longer duration of AChE inhibitory action. It has been found to improve cognitive deficits in a broad range of animal models. The neuroprotective effects are related to its ability to attenuate oxidative stress, regulate expression of apoptotic proteins Bcl-2, Bax, P53, and caspase-3,  protect mitochondria, upregulate nerve growth factor, and interfere with amyloid precursor protein metabolism. Phase IV clinical trials in China have demonstrated HupA significantly improved memory deficits in elderly people with benign senescent forgetfulness, and patients with Alzheimer disease and vascular dementia, with minimal peripheral cholinergic side effects and no unexpected toxicity. (9)
Endophytic HupA-Producing Fungus from H. serrata: Study identified and characterized a novel Huperzine A (HupA)-producing fungal strain Slf14 from leaves of H. serrata. The HupA produced by the endophytic fungus was identical to authentic HupA analyzed by thin layer chromatography, HPLC, LC-MS, H NMR and AChE inhibition activity in vitro. The amount of HupA produced by Shiraia sp. Slf14 was 327.8 µgl by HPLC, far higher than other reported endophytic fungi. Although the HupA from endophyte is not very high, it could provide a promising alternative approach for large-scale production of HupA. (6)
Drug Interactions with Huperzine A : HuperzineA (HupA) should not be used when taking other drugs: (1) Acetylcholinesterase inhibitor drugs like
donepezil, galantamine, or rivastigmine - the same mechanism of action may increase the risk of adverse effects. (2) Dopamine D2 receptor blocker - Huperzine may cause symptoms of Parkinson's disease. (3) Calcium channel blockers or beta adrenergic antagonists: Huperziine may lower the heart rate. Possible side effects are mild and include nausea, thirst, abdominal pain, anorexia, dizziness, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, insomnia, excitability, hyperactivity, sweating, slow heart rate, drowsiness, nasal blockage, swelling. (7)
Neuroprotective / Potential Synergism of Hyperzine A and Polyphenols: Huperzine A (HA) of H. serrata is a well-known competitive reversible inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) with neuroprotective effects. Study reports on a green one-step method using microwave extraction to generate H. serrata extract, NSP01. The neuroprotectiive activity of NSP01 is based on a precise combination of three major constituents: HA and two phenolic acids, caffeic acid (CA) and ferulic acid (FA). CA and FA potentiated HA-mediated neuroprotective activity. The combination of HA with CA and FA does not potentiate AChE inhibitory property of HGA which is responsible for adverse side effects. The beneficial effects of NSP01, mimicking the traditional H. serrata decoction, were observed at lower doses than usual efficient concentrations of HA, which can reduce the potential cholinergic adverse effect of the molecule. (8)
Anti-Neuroinflammatory: Overactivated microglia are a chronic source of meaningful neurotoxic factors, and inhibition of microglial overactivation restores neuronal survival, and regularization of microglial activation may slow down or delay progression of neurodegenerative disorders. Study evaluated the anti-neuroinflammatory effect of HsAE (alkaloid-enriched extracts of H. serrata) in LPS-stimulated BV2 microglial cells and its underlying mechanisms. Results showed HsAE is non toxic to BV-2 cells and can even rescue lethal cells upon LPS treatment HsAE treatment reduced NO production, cytokine secretion, and inflammation-related pathways (COX-2, iNOS, and MAPK pathways). Results suggest alkaloid-enriched extracts of H. serrata has potential for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. (10)
Huperzine A / Neuroprotective Molecular Signaling in Alzheimer's Disease: The effects of HupA have been attributed to its ability to inhibit the cholinergic enzyme AChE, acting as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (AChEI). Study summarizes the neuroprotective effects of HupA on AD, with emphasis on its interactions with different molecular signaling avenues, such as Wnt signaling, the pre- and post-synaptic region mechanisms (synaptotagmin, neuroligins), the amyloid precursor protein (APP) processing, the amyloid-ß peptide (Aß) accumulation, and mitochondrial protection. The study provides an integrated overview of the molecular mechanisms through which HupA affects AD. (11)

- Wild-crafted.
- Teas, plant powder, Huperzine A (HupA) in the cybermarket.
- Huperzine A is marketed as a supplementary drug for correction of memory impairment, under the trade name "Cerebra". It is also marketed as a "smart drug" to boost brain power. (2)

April 2023

                                                 PHOTOS / ILLUSTRATIONS
IMAGE SOURCE: Photo / Lycopodiaceae : Huperzia serrata / Microsporophylls / Copyright © 2013 by J F Barcelona & P B Pelser / (contact: barceljf@hotmail.com) [ref. DOL60736] / Non-Commercial Use  / click on image to go to source page / Phytoimages.siu.edu
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Photo: Huperzia serrata / image modified / Keisotyo /  CC BY-SA 3.0 / click on image to go to source page / Wikipedia
IMAGE SOURCE: Photograph: Blood lily--Scadoxus multiflorus / Jim Evans / CC by SA 4.0 / click on image to go to source page / Wikipedia

OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Photo: Scadoxus multiflorus / image modified /  © World of Succulents / click on image to go to source page / World of Succulents

OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Photo: Scadoxus multiflorus berries / Maja Dumat  / CC by 2.0 / click on image to go to source page / North Carolina EXTENSION GARDENER Plant Toolbox
IMAGE SOURCE: Hedyotis costata / Subject Database of China Plant <http://www.naturemuseum.net/album/ShowPhoto.aspx?photoid=2671c974-77ca-44f9-b304-0f16660a06f7> Helixcn
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: /Gliricidia sepium (Jacq.) Kunth ex Walp. - quickstick GLSE2 / Steve Hurst @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA
IMAGE SOURCE: / Photos (2) / Pterocaulon redolens (Willd.) F.-Vill. / © Collected by www.plant.ac.cn / ZHIWUTONG / CLICK ON IMAGE TO GO TO SOURCE PAGE
IMAGE SOURCE: / Line drawing / Pterocaulon redolens (Willd.) F.-Vill. / © Collected by www.plant.ac.cn / ZHIWUTONG / CLICK ON IMAGE TO GO TO SOURCE PAGE
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: / Photo / Rutaceae : Lunasia amara det. John Rey Callado / Leaf / Copyright © 2012 by P.B. Pelser & J.F. Barcelona (contact: pieter.pelser@canterbury.ac.nz) [ref. DOL52015] / Non-Commercial Use / Phytoimages.siu.edu
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: / Flower close-up / dracobotanicus -- Wayne Dumbleton / Creative Commons Attribution / flickr / Click on graphic to see original image / flickr /
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: / Illustration / Cissampelos pareira L. [5809-247450-161657] / Indian medicinal plants, vol. 1: t. 42 / PlantIllustrations.org
flickr /
Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)
Photos ©Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
Content © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
Content / Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Huperzia serrata / KEW: Plants of the World Online
Huperzia serrata (PROSEA) / W P de Winter / Pl@ntUse

Huperzia / Wikipedia
Huperzine A from Huperzia serrata: a review of its sources, chemistry, pharmacology and toxicology
/ Ana Ferreira, Marcio Rodrigues, Ana Fortuna, Amilcar Falcao, Gilberto Alves / Phytochem Rev, 2014 /
DOI: 10.1007/s11101-014-9384-y

Research advances of Huperzia serrata (Thunb.) Trev / Guo B, L Xu, Y Wei, C Liu /  China Journal of Chinese Materia Medica, 2009; 34(16): pp 2018-2023 / PMOD: 19938535
A novel endophytic Huperzine A–producing fungus, Shiraia sp. Slf14, isolated from Huperzia serrata 
/ D. Zhu,  J. Wang,  Q. Zeng,  Z. Zhang,  R. Yan / Journal of Applied Microbiology, 2010; 109(4): pp 1469-1478 /  DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.2010.04777.x
Huperzia serrata: Purportd Benefits, Side Effects and More / Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Huperzia serrata Extract ‘NSP01’ With Neuroprotective Effects-Potential Synergies of Huperzine A and Polyphenols / N Callizot, M L Campanari, L Roufiere, G Jacquemot, A Henriques, E Garayev, P Poindron / Front Pharmacol., 2021; 12: 681532 / DOI: 10.3389/fphar.2021.681532
Progress in studies of huperzine A, a natural cholinesterase inhibitor from Chinese herbal medicine / Rui Wang, Han Yan, Xi-Can Tang / Acta Pharmacol Sin., 2006 27(1): pp 1-26 / PMID: 16364207 /
DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-7254.2006.00255.x.
Anti-Neuroinflammatory Effect of Alkaloid-Enriched Extracts from Huperzia Serrata (Thunb.) Trevis in Lipopolysaccharide-Stimulated Bv2 Microglia Cells / Thu Kim Dang, Seong-Min Hong, Vui Thi Dao, Sun Yeou Kim et al /   HERMED-D-22-00057 / DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.4017539
Huperzine A and Its Neuroprotective Molecular Signaling in Alzheimer’s Disease / Maria Jesus Friedli, Nibaldo C Inestrosa / Molecules, 2021; 26: 6531 / DOI: 10.3390/molecules26216531


DOI: It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

                                                            List of Understudied Philippine Medicinal Plants

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