Cyclosorus interruptus (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
List of species

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Cyclosorus interruptus (Willd.) H.Itô

Protologue: Bot. Mag. (Tokyo) 51: 714 (1937).
Family: Thelypteridaceae
Chromosome number: 2n = 72


  • Cyclosorus striatus (Schum.) Ching (1941),
  • Thelypteris interrupta (Willd.) K.Iwats. (1963),
  • Cyclosorus tottus (Thunb.) Pic.Serm. (1968).

Vernacular names

  • Willdenow’s maiden fern, Willdenow’s fern (En).

Origin and geographic distribution

Cyclosorus interruptus has a pantropical distribution and is widespread in tropical Africa.


The Ijo of the Niger delta use the leaves to make head-pads to carry loads. They also use the leaves for bathing, as sponge and soap substitute.

In Côte d’Ivoire a decoction of the plant is used as for washing sores. The plant is also used in preparations for the treatment of liver diseases, together with Baphia nitida Lodd. and Centella asiatica (L.) Urb. For the treatment of gonorrhoea, the leaves are soaked in water for 1–2 hours, after which the liquid is filtered and drunk.

In Papua New Guinea Cyclosorus interruptus is used for treating burns, cough, malaria and general sickness, A skin care product with cell activating and antioxidant properties based on Cyclosorus interruptus and Thelypteris species has been patented in Japan.


In India, acetone extracts of the epidermal glands have shown antibacterial effects against Salmonella typhi.

A rare asymmetrical long-chain aliphatic ketone, 12-tritriacontanone, has been isolated from the plant. Cyclosorus interruptus also contains coumarin, furano-coumarin and dioxocane derivatives.


Perennial fern with long-creeping rhizome. Rhizome 4–6 mm in diameter, chestnut-brown, glabrous, sparsely covered with scales; scales entire, narrowly ovate, 1–2.5 mm long, acute, black. Fronds spaced up to 12(–15) cm apart, 0.5–2.5 m long; stipe 45–90 cm long, pale brown, dark at base, glabrous; blade bipinnatifid with lower pinnae not reduced, oblong-lanceolate in outline, 30–85 cm × 25–30 cm, papery to slightly leathery, pinnae in 13–20 pairs, narrowly oblong, 10–21 cm × 1–2.5 cm, tapering towards apex, deeply to shallowly lobed, lobes ovate, quadrate or narrowly oblong, 6–17 mm × 4–7 mm, glabrous on both sides or pubescent beneath, margins hairy, often with sparse or many, distinct red glands and lattice-structured scales on underside of midrib of leaf and leaflets, veins raised beneath, basal ones merging with a vein along the margin of the lobe. Sori round and close together at first, later coalescing forming to form a characteristic U-shaped line around the sinuses between the lobes; indusium glabrous or densely hairy, sometimes with glands; sporangia on stalks with long hairs with a terminal, red gland.

Cyclosorus is a pantropical genus of about 3 species, but the number of species is disputed. Some authorities take a wider view of the genera Cyclosorus and Thelypteris; in the extreme view most species have been combined into a broad Thelypteris. In this view, the latter is a nearly cosmopolitan genus of about 875 species; subgenus Cyclosorus then comprises about 78 species.


Cyclosorus interruptus occurs from sea level up to 3150 m altitude, often in full sun. It is locally common in swamps and bogs especially along the edges, riverine bushland, in seepage areas in woodland, and in ditches and drains, for instance in sisal plantations. It has also been found on floating mats of vegetation in swamps or deep open marshes. It occurs sometimes is drier situations. The rhizome is often fully submerged.


Cyclosorus interruptus is only collected from the wild.

Genetic resources

Cyclosorus interruptus is widespread and generally not in danger of genetic erosion. Locally, it is endangered, however, for instance in Réunion.


Cyclosorus interruptus will probably remain of occasional and local importance only.

Major references

  • Adjanohoun, E.J. & Aké Assi, L., 1979. Contribution au recensement des plantes médicinales de Côte d’Ivoire. Centre National de Floristique, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. 358 pp.
  • Arantes, A.A., Prado, J. & Ranal, M.A., 2007. Macrothelypteris e Thelypteris subg. Cyclosorus (Thelypteridaceae) da Estação Ecológica do Panga, Uberlândia, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Revista Brazileira de Botanica 30(3): 411–420.
  • Bouquet, A. & Debray, M., 1974. Plantes médicinales de la Côte d’Ivoire. Travaux et Documents No 32. ORSTOM, Paris, France. 231 pp.
  • Burkill, H.M., 2000. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 5, Families S–Z, Addenda. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 686 pp.
  • Verdcourt, B., 2006. Thelypteridaceae. In: Beentje, H.J. & Ghazanfar, S.A. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 44 pp.

Other references

  • Australian National Botanic Gardens, 2001. Thelypteridaceae. [Internet] In: Ferns and fern allies. Australian National Herbarium, Canberra, Australia. fern/aquatic/ thelypteridaceae.html. February 2010.
  • Cuidet, Y., Rivière, J.M., Picot, F. & Boullet, V., 2006. Index de la flore vasculaire de la Réunion. Liste des espèces menacées sur le territoire de la Réunion 6. [Internet] index.php?fold=menace&page=menace_6&extand=true. Februari 2010.
  • Hatani, A. & Maeda, H., 2004. Cell activator, antioxidant and skincare preparation for external use/Cell activator, antioxidant and skin external preparation containing extract of plant of genus Thelypteris. Japan Kokai Tokkyo Koho (2004), JP 2004083490 A 20040318.
  • Holttum, R.E., 1971. Studies in the family Thelypteridaceae III. A new system of genera in the old world. Blumea 19: 17–52.
  • Holttum, R.E., 1977. The family Thelypteridaceae in the Pacific and Australasia. Allertonia 1: 169–243.
  • Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
  • Quadri-Spinelli, T., 1970. Biological screening of medicinal plants from Papua New Guinea and phytochemical investigation of the fern Cyclosorus interruptus. PhD thesis, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich, Switzerland.
  • Quadri-Spinelli, T., Heilmann, J., Rali, T. & Sticher, O., 2000. Bioactive coumarin derivatives from the fern Cyclosorus interruptus. Planta Medica 66(8): 728–733.
  • Tindale, M.D. & Roy, S.K., 2002. A cytotaxonomic survey of the Pteridophyta of Australia. Australian Systematic Botany 15: 839–937.
  • Vincent, C.P. & Kanna, R.R., undated. Anti bacterial activity of ferns – Christilla parasitica and Cyclosorus interuptus against Salmonella typhi. [Internet] Center of Biodiversity and Biotechnology, St. Xavier’s College, Palayamkottai, Tamilnadu, India. 2009/01/ ferns.pdf. February 2010.


  • L.P.A. Oyen, PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article

Oyen, L.P.A., 2010. Cyclosorus interruptus (Willd.) H.Itô. [Internet] Record from PROTA4U. Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. <>.

Accessed 6 March 2020.