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Pteris ensiformis Burmann f.

Scientific names  Common names 
Pteris mutilata Buntot-kapon (Tag.) 
Pteris crenata SW. Pakong-buntot(Tag.) 
Pteris ensiformis Burmann f. Pakong kapon (Tag.) 
  Pakong- parang (Tag.)
  Asian brake (Engl.) 
  Slender brake (Engl.) 
  Sword brake fern (Engl.) 
Pako and its variations is a local name shared by many medicinal plants: (1) Pako - Athyrium esculentum (2) Pakong-alagdan - Blechnum orientale (3) Pakong-anuanag, pako, buhok-virgin, dila-dila - Onychium siliculosum (4) Pakong-gubat, pakong kalabao, Pityrogramma calomelanos (5) Pakong-parang - Pteris mutilata, P. ensiformis (6) Pakong-roman - Ceratopteris thalictroides. (7) Pakong-tulog, pakong-cipres, Selaginella tamariscina (8) Pakong buwaya - Cyathea contaminans.

The genus Pteris has about more than 650 species. A compilation lists pakong-parang with Pteris mutilata. Quisumbing's compilation lists it under Pteris ensiformis, pteris crenata. Although the botanical description shares significant similariites, the folkloric uses differ.

Pakong-parang has creeping rhizomes, sparingly clothed with adpressed scales. Stipe (fern "stem") of fertile fronds are 5 to 10 cm long; those of the sterile fronds longer, 10 to 30 cm long; pale, glabrous and fascicled (growing in dense tufts). Fronds are thin and glabrous, 10 to 30 cm long, with very few pinnae; sterile fronds are shortest, 5 to 15 cm broad, with the lowest or all lateral pinnae pinnate, with few sharply serrate, oblong lateral pinnules, 7 to 10 mm wide; the fertile fronds with pinnae correspondingly forked instead of pinnate, the segments longer, linear and 4 to 8 mm wide. Sori are on the lower surface of the leaflets, along the margins in a dense uninterrupted row which does not extend to the apex. Sori protected by a reflexed membranaceous projection of the margin.

In open woods, at low and medium altitudes, throughout the Philippines.
Also reported from India to Polynesia.

Part utilized and preparation
Whole plant may be collected throughout the year.
Rinse and dry under the sun.

Antipyretic, antirheumatic, antidysenteric.

· Young fronds are eaten steamed; used as flavoring.
· In Taiwan, an ingredient in most of the traditional beverage formulas.
· In Pahang, juice of young fronds used as astringent for cleansing unhealthy tongues of children.
· Root juice used as application for glandular swellings of the neck.
· Decoction of fresh fronds drunk by dysenteric patients.
· Bacillary dysentery, enteritis, fever, malaria, swelling and painful throat: 30 to 60 gms dried material in decoction.
· Urinary tract infection, leucorrhea: 30 to 60 gms dried material in decoction.
· Mumps, measles, eczema: apply as poultice.

· Used to control menstruation in Bougainvelle.
· In New Guinea, fronds applied to boils, ulcers and arrow wounds; also used to control menstruation.
· A decoction of Eclipta prostrata and Pteris ensiformis used for hemorrhoidal bleeding, dysentery and enteritis.
· In Vanuatu, for dysmenorrhea, a handful of leaf fronds are rubbed over the abdominal area.

Immunomodulatory: Study showed sword brake fern attenuates inflammatory mediator synthesis of activated macrophages partially through a NF-kB-dependent pathway.
Phenolic Antioxidants: Study showed SBF exhibited strong antioxidant activity, attributed to the phenolic compounds, especially derivatives of caffeic acid, hispidin and kaempferol.

Cytotoxicity / Pterosin Sesquiterpenes: (1) Study yielded 3 new compounds together with nine known compounds. Compound 1 (2R,3R-pterosin L 3-O-β-D-glucopyranoside) and pterosin B (5) showed cytotoxicity against HL 60 cells (human leukemia). (2) Study yielded a new compound, 4-caffeoyl quinic acid 5-O-methyl ether with 12 known compounds. Three compounds exhibited selective to moderate cytotoxicity.
Anti-Atherogenesis / Antiinflammatory / Antioxidant: Study showed the hot water extract of SBF exhibited potential antiinflammatory activities in murine RAW264.7 macrophages. also, SBF and its activie component, a pterisodie, were scavengers of DPPH, hydroxyl radicals and superoxide. Results also showed LDL oxidation was suppressed by SBF and suggests further studies to define the exact role of the natural compoenents on atherogenesis.

Antioxidant / Anti-Atherosclerosis: Study of sword brake fern aqueous extract with 2 new compounds recently isolated – 7-O-caffeoylhydroxymaltol 3-O-B-D- glucopyranoside and hispidin 4-O-B-D-glucopyronoside – showed it may prevent atherosclerosis through inhibition of both LDL oxidation and ROS production.


Last Update April 2011

Photo © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
IMAGE SOURCE: Pteris ensiformis / Evergreeniensis habit at Walmart Kahului, Maui / Forest and Kim Starr - Plants of Hawaii / Creative Commons Attribution / alterVISTA

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Immunomodulatory mechanism of the aqueous extract of sword brake fern (Pteris ensiformis Burm.) / Ming-Jiuan Wu, Ching-Yi Weng et al /
Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Vol98, Issues 1-2, 8 April 2005, Pages 73-81 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2004.12.031
Identification of phenolic antioxidants from Sword Brake fern (Pteris ensiformis Burm.)
/ Yung-Husan Chen, Fang-Rong Chang et al / Food Chemistry 105 (2007) 48–56
New Benzoyl Glucosides and Cytotoxic Pterosin Sesquiterpenes from Pteris ensiformis Burm. / Yung-Husan Chen, Fang-Rong Chang et al / Molecules 2008, 13, 255-266
A Review on the Potential Uses of Ferns / M Mannar Mannan, M Maridass and B Victor / Ethnobotanical Leaflets 12: 281-285. 2008.
Importance of Ferns in Human Medicine / Kamini Srivastava / Ethnobotanical Leaflets 11: 231-234. 2007.

Ferns and Man in New Guinea / Australian National Herbarium

Anti-Atherogenesis Mechanism of Sword Brake Fern (Pteris ensiformis Burm.) and Its Major Components / Hsiu-an Wei • Master thesis /

Chemical and biologically active constituents of Pteris multifida
/ Liva Harinantenaina et al / Journal of Natural Medicines • Volume 62, Number 4 / October, 2008 / DOI 10.1007/s11418-008-0265-9
Inhibition of Low-Density Lipoprotein Oxidation and Oxidative Burst in Polymorphonuclear Neutrophils by Caffeic Acid and Hispidin Derivatives Isolated from Sword Brake Fern (Pteris ensiformis Burm.) / Hsiu-An Wei et al / J. Agric. Food Chem., 2007, 55 (26), pp 10579–10584 / DOI: 10.1021/jf071173b
Maternity and medicinal plants in Vanuatu I. The cycle of reproduction / G Bourdy and A Walter / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 37 (1992) 179-196

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