Piai Raya/Laut (Malay)
clump of frensThese ferns are among the few that can tolerate
saline soil and grows in the back mangroves. But they cannot
tolerate flooding. Besides brackish water, it also grows in
freshwater swamps and marshes.
Main features: Grows in huge clumps, up to 2m tall.
Leaves: Large (up to 2m long), once pinnate. Rhizomes and leaf
stalk bases are covered with scales. young leaf tips
Flowers and fruit: Like other ferns, do not produce flowers or
fruits. They reproduce through spores that appear at the tips of the
fronds, on the undersides.
World distribution: Pantropical.
Classification: Family Pteridaceae. World 3 mangrove species.
young leaf tip The young leaves are reddish. When older fronds
become fertile, the underside of the leaflets at the tip becomes
covered with red-brown sporangia.
spore bearing leaflets
Uses: The young shoots can be eaten raw as a salad or cooked (Malay,
India, Sri Lanka). The leaves are also used as cattle feed. Older
leaves when dried are parchment-like and used as fire-resistant roof
thatch (Vietnam and the Pacific). The fibres of old leaves may also
be used to make cord.
Traditional medicinal uses: Rhizomes are pounded into a paste and
used to treat wounds and boils (Malay). Leaves are used to stop
Role in the habitat: Among the first large low-growing plants to
grow on the landward side of the mangrove, the fern provides shade
for other plants and trees to take root. But on cleared mangroves,
it can form impenetrable thickets which prevents other plants from
taking root. Thus it is often considered a weed. For animals, these
thickets provide safety and shelter. Birds such as the Purple Heron
(Ardea purpurea) make their nests in these thickets.