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Dipteris conjugata
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Dipteris conjugata Reinw., 1825-1826

Kingdom:Plantae
Phylum/Division:Filicophyta
Class:Pteridopsida
Order:Polypodiales
Family:Dipteridaceae
Genus:Dipteris
Species:D. conjugata
Status:Critically endangered

Description

The rhizome is creeping, of up to 1 cm or more in diameter and covered with stiff black shining, bristle-like hairs. The stipe is smooth, to about 200 cm tall and smooth except at the very base. The fronds are divided to the base into two spreading fan-shaped halves, each divided more than half way into 4 unequal lobes, these lobes are again less deeply lobed once or more times. The ultimate lobes taper to a narrow apex with the edges deeply toothed. The main veins are dischotomously branched several times. The sori are small, of irregular size and shape and scattered all over the lower surface of the frond or part of it. Indusia are absent.

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

Distribution

From Thailand through Indochina, southern China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines to New Calodenia and Australia.

General Biology

Dipteris conjugata is a primitive fern with fossils of near allies found in many remote parts of the world, including Britain. In Malaysia and the surrounding countries, it is found mainly in forest clearings at an elevation of 300-2,900 metres. In East Kalimantan it grows along rivers together with Nypa Palms. And in Singapore, it once abound on the coastal cliff surface of Labrador as well as a few other locations at sea level. Labrador was declared a Nature Reserve by the colonial government in 1951 on the possibility that the fern could be a relic of a time when the climate of Singapore was cooler (Holttum, 1954; Lim et al., 1994). In the 1960s the ferns were still intact but during the subsequent years they slowly disappeared. The fact that the status of the area was downgraded into a nature park immediately after independence may have contributed a large part to their obliteration. However, in 2001 the park was regazetted as Nature Reserve but by then only a handfull plants were left. These later disappeared completely.

Life Cycle

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

Human Uses

In the highlands of Mindanao in the Philippines, the large fronds are used as an umbrella. In southern Thailand, the roots are collected for used in traditional medicine.

References

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., 1954. Plant life in Malaya. Longmans, Green & Co.. London. 254pp.

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

Lim, S., P. Ng, L. Tan & Y. C. Wee, 1994. Rhythm of the sea - The life and times of Labrador beach. School of Science, National Technological University & Department of Botany, National University of Singapore.

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.

Wee, Y. C. & R. Hale, 2008. The Nature Society (Singapore) and the struggle to conserve Singapore’s nature areas. Nature in Singapore 1: 41-49.

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