PROSEA, Title pages of Ferns and allies

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

de Winter, W.P. and Amoroso, V.B. (Editors), 2003. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 15(2). Cryptogams: Ferns and fern allies. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, The Netherlands. 268 pp.


This volume deals with the pteridophytes, or the ferns, clubmosses and horsetails. The possibilities of these species are not limited to use as garden and indoor ornamentals, though this is what they are best known by. Being a group of plants that has representatives in most natural land habitats, often in abundance, pteridophytes have instigated cultures all over the world to employ them for various purposes. Many of these applications comply with the needs of rural communities for food, medicine and structural materials. With the ongoing proliferation of the industrialized urban society, partly these traditional uses have disappeared, partly they have persisted till the present day in a vividly living tradition. The high content of a great variety of chemical constituents of many pteridophytes has led to the recognition of a medicinal value of a number of species. Several of those have been in use in traditional and herbal medicine for centuries. A few species have recently gained interest by pharmaceutical research as possible leads to the development of medicines for hard-to-cure diseases. Other contemporary development has engendered less obvious applications, such as mosquito control, manuring, energy production, decontamination of waste waters and soils, and as prophylactic agent against nerve gases.

In this volume, more than 100 species are treated in 53 papers. In addition, 3 papers have been included that deal with mosses.


Mr W.P. de Winter is a systems ecologist who graduated from Wageningen University in 1989, with majors in fisheries ecology, theoretical production ecology and nematology. By the time he graduated, he had been studying the pteridophytes of The Netherlands and neighbouring countries for nearly 15 years. This interest was boosted strongly during a one-year stay in Honduras in 1993. More study tours then followed to sample several tropical fern floras. At present, he works as software engineer at the Wageningen Software Labs. He was invited to be editor of the Prosea volume on ferns in 2000, a voluntary job which since then has occupied most of his free spare time.

Dr V.B. Amoroso obtained his degree in biology in 1973 after which he became a lecturer at the Central Mindanao University of the Philippines. After a year of teaching he was awarded a World Bank scholarship and went to the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City. He completed his MSc in Botany in 1977 and his PhD, also in Botany, in 1983. He is currently director of research, professor of the Department of Biology and concurrently holding the position as Vice President for Research and Extension at Central Mindanao University. For almost two decades, he has been involved in research on the morphology and taxonomy of Philippine economic ferns, published numerous scientific articles, handbooks and laboratory manuals and acted as contributing and associate editor of the Journal of Philippine Biota (Biology Teachers' Association of the Philippines) and Central Mindanao University Journal of Science. Funded by the National Research Council of the Philippines, he has done research on the genus Lycopodium in the Philippines and did histochemical studies on Philippine medicinal ferns and fern allies.


General editors of the Prosea Handbook

P.C.M. Jansen, E. Westphal and N. Wulijarni-Soetjipto

Editorial staff of this volume

  • Editors: W.P. de Winter and V.B. Amoroso
  • Associate editor: P.C.M. Jansen
  • Illustrators: Achmad Satiri Nurhaman and Iskak Syamsudin
  • Language corrector: S. van Otterloo-Butler

Contributors of articles

  • J.J. Afriastini, Herbarium Bogoriense, Jalan Ir. H. Juanda 22, P.O. Box 110, Bogor 16122, Indonesia (Adiantum, Marsilea crenata, Oleandra neriiformis)
  • V.B. Amoroso, College of Arts and Sciences, Central Mindanao University, Department of Biology, Musuan, Bukidnon 8710, The Philippines (Huperzia phlegmaria, Ophioglossum reticulatum, introduction, editor)
  • Bambang Hariyadi, Kelompok Kajian Biologi [Biological Studies Group], Jambi University, P.O. Box 219, Jambi 36001, Indonesia (Hypolepis punctata)
  • Benito C. Tan, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore 119260 (Leucobryum, Sphagnum, Spiridens reinwardtii, introduction mosses)
  • T. Boonkerd, Chulalongkorn University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany, Bangkok 10330, Thailand (Huperzia carinata, Loxogramme scolopendrina, Lycopodium complanatum)
  • Chanpen Prakongvongs, Botany and Weed Science Division, Department of Agriculture, Chatuchak Bangkok 10903, Thailand (Ceratopteris thalictroides)
  • Cheksum Supiah Tawan, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Faculty of Resource Science and Technology, 94300 Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, Malaysia (Schizaea dichotoma, Taenitis blechnoides)
  • Dedy Darnaedi, Center for Plant Conservation - Bogor Botanical Gardens, Jalan Ir. H. Juanda No. 13, P.O. Box 309, Bogor 16003, Indonesia (Acrostichum aureum, Cheilanthes tenuifolia, Cyclosorus heterocarpus, Dipteris conjugata, Equisetum ramosissimum, Hemionitis arifolia, Nephrolepis, Onychium siliculosum, Pityrogramma calomelanos, Platycerium bifurcatum, Pleocnemia irregularis, Selliguea feei, Stenochlaena palustris)
  • W.P. de Winter, Plevierenweide 82, 6708 BX Wageningen, The Netherlands (Ampelopteris prolifera, Amphineuron terminans, Angiopteris evecta, Cyclosorus heterocarpus, Equisetum ramosissimum, Huperzia serrata, Hypolepis punctata, Loxogramme scolopendrina, Lycopodiella cernua, Lycopodium clavatum, Microlepia speluncae, Odontosoria chinensis, Rumohra adiantiformis, Selaginella, introduction, editor)
  • P.H. Hovenkamp, Nationaal Herbarium Nederland, Leiden branch, P.O. Box 9514, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands (Diplazium, Pyrrosia)
  • F.X. Inawati, Universitas Kristen Duta Wacana, Faculty of Biology, Jalan Dr. Wahidin 21, Yogyakarta, Indonesia (Blechnum)
  • Isa B. Ipor, Faculty of Resource Science and Technology, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, 93400 Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, Malaysia (Microsorum)
  • P.C.M. Jansen, WUR, Prosea Publication Office, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands (Angiopteris evecta, Davallia, Pteridium aquilinum, Selaginella, associate editor)
  • Norma O. Aguilar, Institute of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, University of the Philippines Los Baños, College, Laguna 4031, The Philippines (Microlepia speluncae, Microsorum, Ophioglossum pendulum, Tectaria)
  • H.C. Ong, Institute of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Cyathea, Microsorum, Ophioglossum pendulum, Ophioglossum reticulatum)
  • G. Rusea, Biology Department, Faculty of Science & Environmental Studies, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia (Asplenium, Cephalomanes javanicum, Pteris, Tectaria)
  • H. Schneider, Albrecht von Haller Institut für Pflanzenwissenschaften, Abt. Systematische Botanik, Georg August Universität Göttingen, Untere Karspüle 2, 37073 Göttingen, Germany (Pteris, Taenitis blechnoides)
  • Soetjipto Partohardjono, Central Research Institute for Food Crops, Jalan Merdeka No 147, Bogor 16111, Indonesia (Azolla pinnata)
  • W. Somprasong, Botany and Weed Science Division, Department of Agriculture, Bangkok 10900, Thailand (Microsorum, Schizaea dichotoma)
  • P. Swatdee, Soil Microbiology Research Group, Soil Science Division, Department of Agriculture, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10903, Thailand (Azolla pinnata)
  • Titien Ngatinem Praptosuwiryo, Herbarium Bogoriense, Jalan Ir. H. Juanda 22, P.O. Box 110, Bogor 16122, Indonesia (Acrostichum aureum, Cheilanthes tenuifolia, Cibotium barometz, Davallia, Dicranopteris linearis, Dipteris conjugata, Drynaria, Helminthostachys zeylanica, Hemionitis arifolia, Lygodium, Nephrolepis, Onychium siliculosum, Pityrogramme calomelanos, Platycerium bifurcatum, Pleocnemia irregularis, Pteridium aquilinum, Stenochlaena palustris)
  • Y. Umi Kalsom, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Faculty of Science & Environmental Studies, Department of Biology, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia (Diplazium)
  • N. Wulijarni-Soetjipto, Prosea Network Office, Herbarium Bogoriense, Jalan Ir. H. Juanda 22, P.O. Box 332, Bogor 16122, Indonesia (Equisetum ramosissimum, Lycopodiella cernua, Selliguea feei)


When surveys of useful plants are published, ferns and fern allies (pteridophytes) are not usually or only very rarely mentioned and if so, they are attributed ornamental value. As can be learnt from this volume, however, the uses of ferns and fern allies comprise almost all uses that are known for seed plants. Uses of fruits and seeds are excepted of course, because pteridophytes do not reproduce by seed but by spores. In addition to the ornamental value which most ferns possess, numerous ferns are also used in traditional medicine and many ferns are used as food, e.g. the starch accumulated in the rhizome, the young leaves (croziers) as a vegetable, the salt remaining after burning is used for flavouring and several ferns are valuable as fodder, green manure and fibre, tree ferns for timber, large leaved ferns for thatching. Contemporary developments have engendered applications such as mosquito control, energy production, decontamination of waste water and soils and as a prophylactic against nerve gases.

The economic value of ferns and fern allies is difficult to estimate because statistics hardly exist. For ornamental ferns, including live plants and cut foliage, the annual trade value is estimated at about 200 million US$. Pteridophytes used in herbal medicine constitute a considerable trade volume because they are supplied to numerous consumers. Scientific knowledge about the pharmacological properties of medicinal ferns is by no means complete, but the research interest is growing. Several pteridophytes contain promising compounds (alkaloids, phenols) and it can only be hoped that this publication may contribute towards stimulating further research. Ferns as food really do have potential but here also more research is needed, not only to improve palatability but also to find reliable methods to take promising species into cultivation to create a more constant supply.

South-East Asia with its more than 4000 pteridophyte species could play an important role in developing a sustainable fern market. It is hoped that this volume, which contains up-to-date information on more than 100 species, will contribute to a better understanding of this underestimated group of plants and that it will stimulate research in many directions in order to guarantee maintenance of the rich genetic diversity alongside sustainable exploitation of this group of beautiful plants.

January, 2003
Professor Aprilani Soegiarto
Chairman of the Prosea Board of Trustees
Jakarta, Indonesia