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Family Polypodiaceae
Pteris ensiformis Burmann f.

Jin bian qian

Scientific names  Common names 
Pteris ensiformis Burmann f. Buntot-kapon (Tag.) 
Pteris ensiformis var. ensiformis Pakong-buntot(Tag.) 
Pteris ensiformis var. obtusata Christ Pakong kapon (Tag.) 
Infraspecific taxa Pakong- parang (Tag.)
Pteris ensiformis var. merrillii (C.Chr. ex Ching) S.H.Wu Laurel fern(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.
Pteris ensiformis Burm. f. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: San cha cao, Jian bian qian.
SPANISH: Helecho.

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 is a small terrestrial fern, with creeping rhizomes, sparingly clothed with adpressed scales. Stipe (fern "stem") of fertile fronds are 5 to 10 centimeters long; those of the sterile fronds longer, 10 to 30 centimeters long; pale, glabrous and fascicled (growing in dense tufts). Fronds are thin and glabrous, 10 to 30 centimeters long, with very few pinnae; sterile fronds are shortest, 5 to 15 centimeters broad, with the lowest or all lateral pinnae pinnate, with few sharply serrate, oblong lateral pinnules, 7 to 10 millimeters wide; the fertile fronds with pinnae correspondingly forked instead of pinnate, the segments longer, linear and 4 to 8 milimeters 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.

- Common in open woods, at low and medium altitudes, throughout the Philippines.
- Also reported in Sri Lanka, India, China, throughout Southeast Asia to Northern Australia and Polynesia.

- Study of ethyl acetate extract isolated three new compounds: 2R,3R-pterosin L 3-O-β-D-glucopyranoside (1), β-D- xylopyranosyl(1→2)-7-O-benzoyl-β-D-glucopyranoside (2) and 4-O-benzoyl-β-D-xylo- pyranosyl(1→2)-7-O-benzoyl-β-D-glucopyranoside (3), together with nine known compounds: 5-[2-hydroxyethylidene]-2(5H)-furanone (4), pterosin B (5), β-D-glucopyranosyl benzoic acid ester (6), benzoic acid (7), 5-O-coumaroylquinic acid (8), coumaric acid (9), cyclolaudenol (10), β-sitosterol-3-O-β-D-glucoside (11), and β-D-sitosterol (12). (see study below) (9)
- Study of whole plants yielded two new pterosin sesquiterpenes, (2S)-13-hydroxypterosin A (1) and (2S,3S)-12-hydroxypterosin Q (2), together with six known compounds. (see study below) (13)
- In a study of heavy metal concentrations of Pb, Ni, and Co in soil (S) and leaves (L) of some ferns, Pteris ensiformis yielded: Pb 20.635 ± 2.42 mg/kg (S) 30.370 ± 9.90 mg/kg (L); Ni 2.464 ± 1.65 mg/kg (S) 8.550 ± 1.86 mg/kg (L); Co 1.135 ± 0.44 mg/kg (S), not detected in leaves. (15)

- Sweetish-tasting.
- Antipyretic, antirheumatic, antidysenteric.

- Studies have shown immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiatherogenesis, cytotoxic, antitubercular properties.

Part utilized
Whole plant

· 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 from the rhizome is applied to glandular swellings of the neck.
· Decoction of fresh fronds drunk by dysenteric patients.
· Used for bacillary dysentery, enteritis, fever, malaria, swelling and painful throat: 30 to 60 gms dried material in decoction.
· Used for urinary tract infection, leucorrhea: 30 to 60 gms dried material in decoction.
· Used as poultice in mumps, measles, and eczema
· 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 Vanatu, 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. (1)
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: 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) with IC50 values of 3.7 and 8.7 µg/mL
, respectively.   (3) 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
active 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 components on atherogenesis. (7)
Antioxidant / Anti-Atherosclerosis: Study of sword brake fern aqueous extract
isolated 2 new compounds: 7-O-caffeoylhydroxymaltol 3-O-B-D- glucopyranoside and hispidin 4-O-β-d-glucopyranoside [6-(3,4-dihydroxystyryl)-4-O-β-d-glucopyranoside-2-pyrone] The aqueous extract and two compounds strongly inhibited Cu2+-mediated LDL oxidation. Results showed it may prevent atherosclerosis through inhibition of both LDL oxidation and ROS production. (9)
New Pterosin Sesquiterpenes / Antitubercular: Study of whole plants yielded two new pterosin sesquiterpenes, (2S)-13-hydroxypterosin A (1) and (2S,3S)-12-hydroxypterosin Q (2), together with six known compounds. Compound 2 exhibited antitubercular activity (MIC 6.25 µg/ml) against Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37 Rv in vitro. (13)
Element Concentration: In a study on element concentrations of 19 terrestrial fern species, pteris ensiformis showed the highest concentrations of Mg, Na, and Zn. (14)


Last Update October 2016

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
Pteris ensiformis Burm. f. /
Chinese names and synonyms / Catalogue of Life, China
Pteris ensiformis / Synonyms / The Plant List
New Pterosin Sesquiterpenes and Antitubercular Constituents from Pteris ensiformis. / Chemistry & Biodiversity / DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cbdv.201300072
ELEMENT CONCENTRATIONS OF SOME FERN SPECIES AT PHU SOI DAO NATIONAL PARK, PHITSANULOK PROVINCE, THAILAND / Supaporn Pongthornpruek,* and Savent Pampasit / Mae Fah Luang University International Conference 2012

Heavy Metal Accumulation in Soil and Some Fern Species at Phu Soi Dao National Park, Phitsanulok Province, Thailand. / Supaporn Pongthornpruek*, Savent Pampasit, Nimit Sriprang, Pensiri Nabheerong and Kongsakdi Promtep / NU Science Journal 2008; 5(2): 151 - 164

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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