Selliguea feei (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Selliguea feei Bory

Protologue: Dict. class. d'hist. nat. 6: 588, pl. 41 (1825).
Family: Polypodiaceae
Chromosome number: 2n= 74


Grammitis vulcanica Blume (1828), Polypodium feei Mett. (1856), Pleopeltis feei Alderw. (1909).

Vernacular names

  • Indonesia: pakis tangkur.

Origin and geographic distribution

In South-East Asia, S. feei in the strict sense occurs only in Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, Lesser Sunda Islands).


In Java (Indonesia), the rhizome of S. feei is traditionally used as a diuretic and as a medicine against rheumatism and hypertension. It is also said to have aphrodisiac properties. S. feei is an attractive fern which can also be used as an ornamental, grown in pots and baskets.

Production and international trade

S. feei is used locally on a small scale only. Standardized extract of the rhizomes is produced commercially on a small scale in West Java (Indonesia) under the name poliponidin. It is beneficial for protection against degenerative diseases such as hypertension, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatism. No international trade exists.


The following compounds have been isolated from the rhizomes of S. feei : selligueain A, selligueain B, (-)-4-β-carboxymethyl-epiafzelechin-(3'-deoxydryopteric acid), (+)-afzelechin-O-β-4'-D-gluco-pyranoside and kaempferol-3-O-β-D-glucopyranoside-7-O-α-L-rhamnopyranoside. Selligueain A is a highly sweet trimeric proanthocyanidin, while selligueain B is a somewhat astringent, sweet-tasting trimeric proanthocyanidin with a doubly linked A unit. The kaempferol-rhamnopyranoside is a very bitter flavonoid glucoside. Selligueain A is non-mutagenic, not acutely toxic to mice and is about 35 times sweeter than a 2% sucrose solution in water. In Indonesia, trimeric proanthocyanidin has been tested pharmacologically in mice, especially for its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-hypertension activities. Results of the tests showed that proanthocyanidin may have analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity and its mechanism is assumed to be based on the inhibition of prostaglandin biosynthesis, as the compound inhibits cyclo-oxygenase enzyme which has a role in the formation of prostaglandin. Tests on the anti-hypertension activities revealed that proanthocyanidin inhibits angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE). The role of ACE is to convert angiotensin I into angiotensin II which is known to cause vasoconstriction of the blood vessels. An anti-oxidant investigation using the barbiturate acid method revealed that proanthocyanidin showed an anti-oxidant activity.


Rhizome short creeping, 3-8 mm in diameter, densely covered with peltate (rarely pseudopeltate) scales; scales lanceolate-linear, 5-6.5 mm × 1.5-2.5 mm, obtuse or more often acute, golden-brown, evenly coloured, entire to rarely remotely and weakly dentate, appressed or more often spreading; distance between leaves 1-4.5 cm; vascular strands 10-13, with bundle sheath fully sclerified, no sclerenchyma strands. Leaves simple, dimorphic; fertile leaves with the firm petiole 4-30(-55) cm long, glabrous, erect, lustrous pale or brown; lamina lanceolate, 7-25 cm × 2-7 cm, base obtuse, margin cartilaginous, thickened, without or with few notches, apex various, obtuse to acuminate, lustrous bright green, coriaceous, glabrous; sterile leaves usually present, petiole 2.5-45 cm long, lamina ovate-lanceolate, 5-31 cm × 2-10 cm; main veins on adaxial surface raised or not, distinct; veinlets indistinct, free and anastomosing, free veinlets excurrent and recurrent; hydathodes frequent, calcareous scales caducous. Sori mostly confluent across connecting veins into interrupted transverse linear coenosori, 3-5 mm wide, in one row between adjacent costules from the costa to the leaf margin, not quite reaching either the midrib or the margin, superficial. Spores with densely granulose surface.

Other botanical information

S. feei is the type species of the genus Selliguea Bory which is distributed from India to Japan, throughout South-East Asia to Australia and Fiji. S. feei has also been recorded in Malaysia, Thailand and Indo-China but these plants should be ascribed to S. heterocarpa Blume (which in an authoritative publication has been called. S. feei erroneously) and to S. lateritia (Baker) Hovenkamp (which at present is still often confused with S. heterocarpa ). In a strict sense S. feei is part of an aggregate of mainly allopatric species, comprising S. feei (distributed from Sumatra to Flores), S. elmeri (Copel.) Ching (northern Luzon in the Philippines), S. caudiformis (Blume) Carruth. (the Philippines, Sulawesi, Moluccas), S. feeoides Copel. (Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa) and S. plantaginea Brackenr. and related species (Sulawesi, New Guinea to the Pacific). The allopatric species differ from S. feei in the following characteristics: S. elmeri has a lamina with an abruptly contracted base and a rounded apex; in S. caudiformis the lamina is more distinctly acuminate and the sori are usually separate; in S. feeoides the fertile lamina is characteristically ovate-lanceolate, gradually tapering to the apex, with sori in mainly uninterrupted coenosori, not covering the lamina when ripe; S. plantaginea has a more widely ovate lamina, the sori ranging from round, separate to fully coenosoroid, and nearly always without hydathodes. Intermediate forms between any two of those species may be found. Specimens of S. feei from Flores have regularly trilobed fronds, a regularly notched margin and sclerenchyma strands in the rhizome. Trilobed forms rarely occur in Java.


S. feei is an epiphytic or epilithic fern, occurring in forest, in open heath, between rocks, on cliffs and roadsides at 900-3150 m altitude. Less often it grows on walls or epiphytically on mossy trunks. In Java it occurs especially on volcanoes, sometimes growing abundantly near craters due to its resistance to volcanic fumes.

Propagation and planting

S. feei can be propagated by spores and rhizome cuttings.


S. feei grows well on a medium of a coarse mixture where there is enough shade, humidity and air movement.


For medicinal purposes S. feei is harvested from the wild when the need arises.

Handling after harvest

The rhizomes of S. feei can be extracted to prepare pharmaceutical preparations. The returns are 19-20% of the raw material.

Genetic resources and breeding

Since the use of S. feei is still very limited while it grows abundantly in some locations, it seems the risk of genetic erosion is limited. Neither germplasm collections nor breeding programmes are known to exist.


Since not much is known about the pharmacological properties of S. feei , further research on its chemical contents and clinical tests are necessary. Where industrial prospects for the manufacture of pharmaceutical preparations from S. feei are favourable, research on its domestication and cultivation should be considered to guarantee a sustainable supply.


  • Backer, C.A. & Posthumus, O., 1939. Varenflora voor Java [Fern flora for Java]. 's Lands Plantentuin, Buitenzorg, Dutch East Indies. pp. 198-199.
  • Baek, N.I., Chung, M.S., Shamon, L., Kardono, L.B., Tsauri, S., Padmawinata, K., Pezzuto, J.M., Soejarto, D.D. & Kinghorn, A.D., 1993. Selligueain A, a novel highly sweet proanthocyanidin from the rhizomes of Selliguea feei. Journal of Natural Products 56: 1532-1538.
  • Baek, N.I., Kennelly, E.J., Kardono, L.B.S., Tsauri, S., Padmawinata, K., Soejarto, D.D. & Kinghorn, A.D., 1994. Flavonoids and a proanthocyanidin from rhizomes of Selliguea feei. Phytochemistry 36: 513-518.
  • Hovenkamp, P., 1998. An account of the Malay-Pacific species of Selliguea (Polypodiaceae). Blumea 43: 1-108.
  • Hovenkamp, P.H., 1998. Polypodiaceae, Selliguea. In: Kalkman, C. & Nooteboom, H.P. (Editors): Flora Malesiana. Series 2. Pteridophyta: Ferns and fern allies. Vol. 3. Rijksherbarium/Hortus Botanicus (under the auspices of Foundation Flora Malesiana), Leiden, The Netherlands. pp. 175-231.
  • Subarnas, A., 2000. Prospek industrial tumbuhan pakis tangkur (Polypodium feei Mett.) untuk obat penyakit degeneratif [The industrial prospects of pakis tangkur (Polypodium feei Mett.) for a medicine against degenerative disease]. Abstract of a paper presented at the Seminar Pengembangan Usaha dan Bursa Hasil Penelitian Obat Asli Indonesia, Jakarta, 17 July 2000.
  • Subarnas, A. & Wagner, H., 2000. Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity of the proanthocyanidin shellegueain A from Polypodium feei Mett. Phytomedicine 7(5): 401-405.


Dedy Darnaedi & N. Wulijarni-Soetjipto