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Pteris ensiformis
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Pteris ensiformis Burm. f., 1786

Species:P. ensiformis
Common Names:Sword Brake, Slender Brake, Laurel Fern, Paku Padang
Status:Cultivated, or uncertain origin


It has a creeping rhizome bearing fronds close together. Fronds are dimorphous, pinnate compound, with a 5-30 cm stipe. The sterile lamina are 7-30 cm long, with the lower pinnae pinnate. The fertile fronds are taller than the sterile, about 40 cm long, with a simple terminal pinna 15-25 x 0.4-0.5 cm. The 3 pairs below the terminal pinna are similarly shaped but with a short branch at the basiscopic side near the base. The sori are linear, submarginal and covered with an indusium when young formed from the thin reflexed margin of the lamina.

Read more about the Polypodiales order.
Read more about the Pteridaceae family.


Occurs naturally in Sri Lanka, India, China, throughout Southeast Asia to northern Australia and Polynesia; widely naturalised elsewhere.


Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

Locality Map

General Biology

This is a small terrestrial fern of shady areas. There is an exotic cultivar with variegated fronds that has been naturalised.

Life Cycle

For an account of the life history of a fern, see Pyrrosia piloselloides.

Human Uses

A decoction of the fronds is given in dysentery while the juice is applied to clean unhealthy tongues of young children. The juice extracted from the rhizome is applied for glandular swellings of the neck.


de Winter, W. P. & V. B. Amoroso (eds.), 2003. Plant resources of South-East Asia No. 15(2). Cryptogams: Ferns and fern allies. Prosea Foundation, Borgor, Indonesia. 268 pp.

Holttum, R. E., 1966. A revised flora of Malaya. II Ferns of Malaya. Govt. Printing Office, Singapore (2nd ed.). 653 pp.

Parris, B. S., R. Khew, R. C. K. Chung, L. G. Saw & E. Soepadmo (eds.), 2010. Flora of Peninsular Malaysia. Series I: Ferns and Lycophytes. Vol. 1. Malayan Forest records No. 48. Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, Kepong. 249 pp.

Wee, Y. C., 2005. Ferns of the tropics. Times Editions-Marshall Cavendish, Singapore. 2nd ed. 190 pp.

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