Cephalomanes javanicum (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Cephalomanes javanicum (Blume) van den Bosch

Protologue: Hymenophyll. javan. 30, pl. 22 (1861).
Family: Hymenophyllaceae
Chromosome number: 2n= ca. 64


Trichomanes javanicum Blume (1828), T. laciniatum Roxb. (1844).

Vernacular names

  • Indonesia: pakis kartam (general), taimalaulau, sikai’kai’batak (Siberut).

Origin and geographic distribution

C. javanicum is distributed throughout South-East Asia.


In Peninsular Malaysia, C. javanicum , dried and mixed with garlic and onions, was smoked like tobacco to cure headache. In northern Siberut (Indonesia), it is one of the ingredients of a medicine used to treat wounds caused by snake bites. C. javanicum has also gained some popularity as an aquarium plant.

Production and international trade

C. javanicum plants produced as aquatic ornamental are traded on a very small scale.


C. javanicum contains flavonoids.


Rhizome erect, bearing many rather thick roots and with the leaves in dense tufts. Leaves monomorphous, pinnate; petiole 1.5-15 cm long, not winged, densely setose when young, glabrescent; lamina odd-pinnate, lanceolate, 5-25 cm × 1.5-5 cm, base obtuse, apex acuminate, lustrous dark green, stiff membranaceous, glabrous; rachis narrowly alate, setose but glabrescent; pinnae lanceolate-oblong, up to 0.8 cm × 2.5 cm, gradually shorter towards the leaf apex, subsessile, base cuneate, margin serrate, apex acute; venation anadromous. Sori on the acroscopic lobes, placed on a receptacle with a long protuberance from a tubular involucre that is immersed within the leaf-tissue; involucre 2 mm × 1 mm, truncate at the apex.

Growth and development

The spores of Hymenophyllaceae contain chloroplasts that start to divide within the spore coat and are short-lived. The development of the filamentous or ribbon-like prothallium is slow, often taking a few years until it is mature.

Other botanical information

Cephalomanes C. Presl comprises about 60 species, distributed pantropically but with the highest concentration in the Old World tropics. C. javanicum is very variable in size and sometimes young plants are already fertile with only a few sori in the upper small pinnae. The sori of well-grown plants are nearly all on the middle to upper part of the acroscopic side of pinnae on the upper half of the leaf, not or only rarely reaching the apex of the pinnae. The receptacle of the sori is often very long when old and it sometimes has an enlarged tip (hence the name Cephalomanes ).


C. javanicum is a terrestrial, rheophytic fern, common near streams in lowland forest, either on rocks or rooted in earth. The thick spreading roots enable it to withstand fast flowing water in floods. All Hymenophyllaceae have very thin leaves and need a permanently high air humidity.

Propagation and planting

C. javanicum can be propagated by spores and by rhizome cuttings bearing at least one crozier. It is not very well suited as an aquarium plant because it is not aquatic at all. When submerged it merely survives for a while, but hardly grows.


For traditional medicinal use, the whole plant of C. javanicum is collected, cleaned, dried and stored until needed.

Genetic resources and breeding

Germplasm collections are available at the fernarium of the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in Bangi, Selangor, Peninsular Malaysia. No breeding programmes are known to exist.


Since C. javanicum is rather limited in its applications in South-East Asia, it is anticipated that it will remain a minor plant resource in the region.


  • Holttum, R.E., 1966. A revised flora of Malaya. 2nd Edition. Vol. 2. Ferns of Malaya. Government Printing Office, Singapore. pp. 86-109.
  • Iwatsuki, K., 1990. Hymenophyllaceae. In: Kramer, K.U. & Green, P.S. (Volume editors): Pteridophytes and gymnosperms. In: Kubitzki, K. (Series editor): The families and genera of vascular plants. Vol. 1. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Germany. pp.157-163.
  • Tagawa, M. & Iwatsuki, K. (Volume editors), 1979-1989. Pteridophytes. In: Smitinand, T., Larsen, K. (Series editors): Flora of Thailand. Vol. 3. Forest Herbarium, Royal Forest Department, Bangkok, Thailand. pp. 96-97.
  • Wallace, J.W., 1996. Chemotaxonomy of the Hymenophyllaceae. 2. C-glycosylflavones and flavone-O-glycosides of Trichomanes s.l. American Journal of Botany 83: 1304-1308.


G. Rusea