Family Nephrolepidaceae
Fishtail fern
Nephrolepis biserrata (Sw.) Schott

FORKED SWORD FERN

Scientific names  Common names
Aspidium acuminatum Willd. Fishtail fern (Engl.)
Aspidium acutum Schkuhr Forked sword fern (Engl.)
Aspidium biserratum Sw. Giant sword fern (Engl.)
Aspidium ensifolium Schkuhr Macho fern (Engl.)
Aspidium guineense Schumach. Sword fern (Engl.)
Aspidium punctatum Sw.  
Hypopeltisbiserrata (Sw.) Bory  
Lepidoneuron biserratum (Sw.) Fée  
Lepidoneuron punctatum (Poir.) Fée  
Lepidoneuron rufescens (Schrad.) Fée  
Nephrodium acuminatum (Willd.) C. Presl  
Nephrodium acutum (Schkuhr) C. Presl  
Nephrodium biserratum (Sw.) C. Presl  
Nephrodium punctatum (Sw.) Desv.  
Nephrodium rufescens Schrad.  
Nephrolepis acuminata (Willd.) C. Presl  
Nephrolepis acuta (Schkuhr) C. Presl  
Nephrolepis biserrata (Sw.) Schott 'Furcans'  
Nephrolepis ensifolia (Schkuhr) C. Presl  
Nephrolepis mollis Rosenst.  
Nephrolepis punctata (Poir.) C. Presl  
Nephrolepis rufescens (Schrad.) C. Presl ex Wawra  
Polypodium neprolepioides Christ  
Polypodium punctatum Poir.  
Tectaria fraxinea Cav.  
Nephrolepis biserrata (Sw.) Schott is an accepted name. The Plant List

Other vernacular names
FIJIAN: Diqidiqi.
LINGALA: Bonkenkele.
LUBA-KATANGA: Luasinia.
MALAYSIAN: Paku larat.



Botany
Fishtail fern is a stoloniferous fern with short erect rhizomes. Leaves are up to 90 centimeters long, leathery, arching, green to yellow green, with the leaflets forked at the end.

Distribution
Widely cultivated in Philippine gardens.

Constituents
- In a study for nutritive value, leaves showed to contain more (P<0,05) dry matter and crude protein than any other portion of the plant. Stem contains more crude fiber and ash than the leaves. (5)
- Phytochemical screening of essential oil, methanol extract and fractions yielded anthraquinones, alkaloids, tannins, steroids, phytosterol, saponin, triterpenoids and flavonoids. Essential oil, methanol extract and methanol fractions were rich in phenolic and flavonoid contents. GCMS analysis yielded various biologically important compounds; dominant compounds were benzeneacetaldehyde, alpha-cubebene, butyrolactone, phenol, benzyl alcohol, phenol, 2-methoxy-, 4h-pyran-4-one, 2,3-dihydro- 3,5-dihydroxy-6-methyl, 2h-pyran-2-one, 4,6-dimethyl-, catechol, benzofuran, 2,3-dihydro-, phenol, 2,4-bis(1,1-dimethylethyl), hexadecanoic acid, methyl ester, n-hexadecanoic acid, 9,12-octadecadienoic acid, methyl ester, phytol, gamolenic acid and octadecanoic acid. (7)
- Phytochemical screening of aqueous, chloroformic and ethanolic extracts yielded sterols, polyterpenes, tannins, polyphenols, flavonoids, quinones, and saponins. (see study below) (9)
- Study of phytochemical content yielded TP (total phenolics) of 59.37 ± 0.55 mg GAE/g, THC (total hydroxycinnamic acid) of 55.67 ± 0.36 mg CAE/g, TF (total flavonoids) of 184.85 ± 1.51 mg QE/g, and TPro (total proanthocyanidins) 9.97 ± 0.55 mg LE/g. (see study below) (10)
- Phytochemical analysis of aqueous and ethanolic leaf extracts yielded the presence of alkaloids, tannins, flavonoids, saponins, phlobatannins, cardiac glycosides, terpenes, anthraquinones. (see study below) (11)

Properties
- Considered antimicrobial, hepatoprotective, antioxidant.
- Studies have shown antioxidant, radical scavenging, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, hepatoprotective, antihypertensive, chemopreventive, cytotoxic, phytoremediative properties.

Parts utilized
Leaves, roots.

Uses
Nutrition / Edibility
- Leaves are boiled and eaten as vegetable.
- In west New Guinea, flour is reported to be extracted from the roots by pounding it into flour. (1)
- Rhizomes and young shoots eaten as vegetable.
Folkloric
- No recorded folkloric use in the Philippines.
- In Malaysia, used for skin disorders.
- In Tahiti, used for blisters, boils, abscesses and sores. (4)
- Used to treat malaria.

- In Cameroon, decoction of fronds used for lower abdominal pains.
- In NW Guyana, leaves used for treatment of wounds and cuts.
(2)
- The Ehotile people of eastern littoral of Cote d'Ivoire use the plant for dysmenorrhea and to remove splinters. (13)
Others
- Fodder: Nutritive analysis suggests a potential fodder for dry season feed of small ruminants. (5)

Studies
Antibacterial / Antifungal:
Study investigated the antimicrobial properties of three selected ferns, viz., P. nudum, Nephrolepis biserrata and N. cordifolia. Water and ethanol fractions of fronds were active against most of the tested bacteria and fungal strains. N. biserrata was most inhibitory to E. coli. Phytochemical testing showed the presence of metabolites such as flavonoids, tannins, alkaloids, reducing sugars, triterpenoids, and steroids in all three pteridophytes. (3)
Hepatoprotective / Antioxidant: Study investigated the protective effect of the methanol extract of N. biserrata leaves against carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-induced hepatic damage in rats. Results showed high total phenolic content which may be the major contributor to its strong antioxidant activities. There was also hepatoprotective activity against CCl4-hepatotoxicity. (6)
• Antihypertensive / Leaves: Study evaluated the hypotensive activity of Nephrolepis biserrata leaves in the treatment or prevention of arterial hypertension using a toad aorta model. NB leaf extract provoked the decrease of contraction of the toad aorta induced by epinephrine in the presence and absence of endothelium. The antihypertensive effect may be due to the presence of polyphenols, alkaloid, and terpenes.
(see constituents above) (8)
• Antioxidative / Chemopreventive / CCl4-Induced Hepatic Dysfunction / Leaves: Study evaluated the protective effects of methanolic extract of N. biserrata leaves against carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) induced hepatic damage in Sprague Dawley rats. Results showed high phenolic content (127.28 ±1.57 mg GAE/g), which may contribute to its strong antioxidant activity. Histologically, NB decreased fatty degeneration and necrosis in CCl4 administered rats. Results showed strong antioxidant activities and significant hepatoprotection against CCl4 induced toxicity in rats. (9)
• Cytotoxicity: Study evaluated five selected edible and medicinal ferns for cytotoxic activities, viz., Blechnum orientale, Davallia denticulata, Diplazium esculentum, Nephrolepis biserrata, and Pteris vittata. Cytotoxicity was evaluated using methylthiazol tetrazolium assay on chronic myelogenous leukemia cell line (K562). All the fern extracts, except for D. denticulata, showed dose-dependent cytotoxicity against K562 cells. (10)
• Anti-Inflammatory / Leaves: Study evaluated leaf extract of N. biserrata for anti-inflammatory activity on albino wistar mice in inflammatory models induced by xylene and egg white albumen. Treatment with extract showed significant (p<0.05) dose dependent decrease in ear weight in both aqueous and ethanolic extracts. LD50 was 3741.66 mg/kg taken orally. (see constituents above) (11)
• Radical Scavenging and FRP Activities / Leaves: Study of leaves of N. biserrata for radical scavenging activity showed moderate TPC (total phenolic content) with IC50 of 0.53 ± 0.05 mg/ml and AEAC (ascorbic acid equivalent antioxidant) of 740 ± 71 AA/100 g and FRP (ferric ion reducing power) of 422 ± 46 mg/GAE/100g. (12)
• Potential Phytoremediator of Heavy Metal: Study assessed the antioxidant response of N. biserrata growing under metal stress in industrial land heavily contaminated with zinc, followed by lead and copper. Results showed N. biserrata is a moderate accumulator for the tested metals with a bioaccumulation factor between 0 to 0.1. HPLC analysis showed higher levels of myricetin and kaempferol in plant samples from contaminated area. Results showed potential as a potential metal phytoremediator with its capacity to scavenge oxygen radicals when exposed to heavy metal stress.   (14)

Availability
Garden cultivation.

Updated September 2018 / May 2015

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
(1)
Ferns as Food / Ferns Important to Man in New Guinea / Ferns and Man in New Guinea / Jim Croft / Australian Natural Herbarium
(2)
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas (Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana) / botany.si.edu
(3)
In Vitro Antibacterial and Antifungal Properties of Aqueous and Non-Aqueous Frond Extracts of Psilotum nudum, Nephrolepis biserrata and Nephrolepis cordifolia / Dolly Rani, P. B. Khare, and P. K. Dantu / Indian J Pharm Sci. 2010 Nov-Dec; 72(6): 818–822. / doi: 10.4103/0250-474X.8460 / PMID: 21969763
(4)
Medical Ethnobotany, Phytochemistry, and Bioactivity of the Ferns of Moorea, French Polynesia / Nicole Baltrushes / Senior Honors Thesis
(5)
Nutritive Value and Potential of Medicine Plant (Nephrolepsis Biserrata -Schott) as Feed Resource for Big Ruminant / Okono A. B. and Uzaho U. / Department of Animal Science, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.
(6)
Summary of "Antioxidative and chemopreventive effects of Nephrolepis biserrata against carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-induced oxidative stress and hepatic dysfunction in rats / Pharmaceutical biology
(7)
PHYTOCHEMICAL INVESTIGATION AND FREE RADICAL SCAVENGING ACTIVITIES OF ESSENTIAL OIL, METHANOL EXTRACT AND METHANOL FRACTIONS OF NEPHROLEPIS BISERRATA / DAWOOD SHAH, MUHAMMAD; YOONG SOON YONG; IQBAL, MOHAMMAD / International Journal of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences; 2014, Vol. 6 Issue 9, p269
(8)
Antihypertensive Potential of Aqueous Extract of Nephrolepis biserrata Leaves on Toad Aorta  / Ibrahim B, Attéké Nkoulémbéné C, Mounguengui S, Lépengué AN, Issembé Azizet Y, Akoué NSI G, Souza A and M’batchi B / Med Aromat Plants 5:220. / doi:10.4172/2167-0412.1000220
(9)
Antioxidative and chemopreventive effects of Nephrolepis biserrata against carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-induced oxidative stress and hepatic dysfunction in rats / Muhammad Dawood Shah, Charles Gnanaraj, ATM Emdadul Haque & Mohammad Igbal / Journal of Pharmaceutical Biology, 2015; Vol 53, Issue 1 / https://doi.org/10.3109/13880209.2014.909502
(10)
Evaluation of Glucosidase Inhibitory and Cytotoxic Potential of Five Selected Edible and Medicinal Ferns
/ Tsun-Thai Chai, Loo-Yew Yeoh, Nor Ismaliza Mohd Ismail, Hean-Chooi Ong, Fazilah Abd Manan and Fai-Chu Wong / Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, March 2015; 14 (3): pp 449-454 / http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/tjpr.v14i3.13
(11)
Phytochemical screening and anti-inflammatory effect of ethanolic and aqueous extract of Nephrolepis biserrata leaf on albino wistar mice / Ekong N. J., Zakari B. G., Ibok N. I. and Okon J. E. / Merit Research Journal of Environmental Science and Toxicology, July 2013; 1(5): pp 05-109
(12)
Antioxidant Properties of Some Malaysian Ferns / How-Yee Lai and Yau-Yan Lim / 2011 3rd International Conference on Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering IPCBEE, Vol 20 (2011)
(13)
Medicinal plants and traditional healing practices in ehotile people, around the aby lagoon (eastern littoral of Côte d'Ivoire) /  and  / Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 2015;11:21 / https://doi.org/10.1186/s13002-015-0004-8
(14)
HEAVY METAL ACCUMULATION AND ANTIOXIDANT PROPERTIES OF NEPHROLEPIS BISERRATA GROWING IN HEAVY METAL-CONTAMINATED SOIL / Manan FA, Mamat DD, Samad AA, Ong YS, Ooh KF, Chai TT / Global NEST Journal, 2015; Vol 17

 

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Potential Herbal Medicines and Drug Interactions

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