Bird's Nest Fern


Bird

The Bird's Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus) is a large leafy fern, commonly found on wayside trees, particularly the Rain Tree in Singapore. The fern grows at the base of large branches and can grow in this soilless condition as it has a unique ability to trap water and develop its own store of humus. 

Description
The Bird's Nest Fern has a short stout erect rhizome (stem) which bears a rosette of simple, long, pointed leaves (fronds) to form a "nest". The stem is usually not visible from the top. The nest traps fallen leaves and other debris which eventually decompose to humus. Beneath the nest of fronds is a large spongy, mass of roots which are covered by the reflexed dead leaves. Rain water is soaked up and stored in the mass. In this way, the plant provides its own food and water and can continue to grow in a soilless condition as long as it is not left to dry out for too long. When the plant grows upward and outward and the root mass becomes deeper and spongier, it attracts other ferns, mosses or algae to grow on the root mass.

The fronds can grow to a length of more than a metre and a width of about 20 cm, with the whole plant extending to about two metres across. The leaves are in shiny light green colour, with a smooth-edged blade and a prominent black midrib. The reproduction sacs, or sporangia which produce spores, are formed along the veins on the underside of the mature fronds at a 45 degree angle in parallel rows to the midrib. The fern produces plentiful spores which are dispersed by wind for proliferation. It is believed to have originated from tropical Asia and Polynesia.

Usage and potential
Food: The Bird's Nest Fern is non-poisonous and is occasionally eaten by aboriginal tribe in Malaysia.
Medicine: The Malay used a decoction of the leaves to ease labour pains in childbirth and also to obtain a lotion to treat fever.
Other uses: The fern is now commonly grown for garden landscaping, either placed in trees as naturally found or on the ground as a garden plant. The plant is also used in flower arrangements with the whole plant or cut leaves used to enhance the arrangement.

Variant Names
Common names: Bird's Nest Fern, Nest Fern.
Scientific name: Asplenium nidus.
Malay names: Daun semun, Paku langsuyar, Paku padan, Rumah langsuyar, Selimbar.
Chinese name: Niao Chao Jue.



Author
Lee-Khoo Guan Fong



References 
Chan, E. (1998). Tropical plants of Malaysia and Singapore. (p. 9). Hong Kong: Periplus Editions.
(Call no.: 581.70913 CHA)

Chin, S. C., & Chan, E. (Eds.). (2001). Skyrise gardening in highrise homes (p. 29). Singapore: Singapore National Parks Board.
(Call no.: RSING 635.9671 SKY)

Johnson, A. (1977). The fern of Singapore island (pp. 74-75). Singapore: Singapore University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 587.31 JOH)

Piggott, A. G. (1988). Ferns of Malaysia in colour (p. 267). Kuala Lumpur: Tropical Press.
(Call no.: RSING 587.3109595 PIG)

Piggott, A. G. (1979). Heinemann guide to common epiphytic ferns of Malaysia and Singapore (pp. 8-9). Singapore: Heinemann Educational Books (Asia).
(Call no.: RSING 587.31095957 PIG)

River Valley High School. Science Club. (1991). A guide to the flora and fauna of schools in Singapore (p. 54). Singapore: Hillview Publications.
(Call no.: RSING 581.95957 RIV)

Tan, T. W. H, Chua K. S. (1995). Growing at your doorstep (p. 44). Singapore: National Council on the Environment.
(Call no.: SING 581.95957 TAN) 

Tofield, A. (Ed.) (1985). Golden gardening: Fifty years of the Singapore Gardening Society 1936-1986 (p. 51). Singapore: Singapore Gardening Society.
(Call no.: RSING 635 GOL)

Wee, Y. C. (1987). A guide to the ferns of Singapore (p. 19-21). Singapore: Singapore Science Centre.
(Call no.: RSING 587.31095957 WEE)

Wee, Y. C. (1992). A guide to medicinal plants (p. 20). Singapore: Singapore Science Centre.
(Call no.: RSING 581.634095957 WEE)

Poole, R. T., Osborne, L. S., &  Chase,  A. R. (n.d.). Birds nest fern. Retrieved November 13, 2003, from Mid-Florida Research and Education Centre Web site: mrec.ifas.ufl.edu/Foliage/folnotes/birdnest.htm


Further Readings
Lim, S. (2003, August 5). Birds nest fern. The Straits Times, Classified, p. 2.

Tan, A. (2003, February 22). Home fernishings. The Straits Times. Life!, p. 11.


List of Images
Johnson, A. (1977). The fern of Singapore island (p. 75). Singapore: Singapore University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 587.31 JOH)

Piggott, A. G. (1988). Ferns of Malaysia in colour (p. 267). Kuala Lumpur: Tropical Press.
(Call no.: RSING 587.3109595 PIG)

River Valley High School. Science Club. (1991). A guide to the flora and fauna of schools in Singapore (p. 54). Singapore: Hillview Publications.
(Call no.: RSING 581.95957 RIV)

Chan, E. (1998). Tropical plants of Malaysia and Singapore (p. 9). Hong Kong: Periplus Editions.
(Call no.: 581.70913 CHA)
 



The information in this article is valid as at 2003 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Science and technology>>Agriculture>>Horticulture>>Flowers and ornamental plants
Nature>>Plants
Asplenium--Singapore

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