thicket of resam
Resam is common in secondary forests, growing well on poor clay
soils. It is among the few branching ferns and quickly develops into
into thickets up to 2 m tall, shading out all other plants. Climbing
on trees, they can reach 7 m. The wiry fronds mesh together and make
it almost impossible to move through.
Main features: Forms a thicket up to 2m tall.
Fronds: Fronds develop paired branches
Common wasteland fern. fronds developing between branches
World distribution: Pantropical.
Classification: Family Gleicheniaceae.
The fronds are forked, with new branches emerging at the junction of
the fork. Resam belongs to a family of ferns that is considered
Uses: In New Guinea, the climbers are used to lash posts together
when making houses. The leaves are used as personal decorations both
daily and for special ceremonies; or the plant may be woven into
decorative arm and waistbands.
Traditional medicinal uses: Crushed leaves are applied as a
poultice to control fever (Malaysia); the plant is used to get rid
of intestinal worms (Indochina); to treat boils, ulcers and wounds
Role in the habitat: Being among the few plants that can grow on
poor soils and scramble over steep slopes, Resam quickly takes over
bare soil after a land slide, or soil affected by erosion and other
wastelands. The quick growing fern helps to bind the soil and return
nutrients to the soil. The slender, spreading rhizomes and the mat
of old leaves protect the soil from further erosion, while the young
leaves trap debris. As these decay, nutrients are returned to the
soil. However, the fern often does this too well and few plants can
grow where a Resam thicket dominates. But, the thick mat of dead
leaves are highly flammable and the thicket can be quickly destroyed
by fire during the dry season. New plants can then grow in the area,
and as Resam cannot survive under shade, there is a chance for other
plants to continue the succession.