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Overview

Brief Summary

Introduction

These litter-basket ferns - so-called because the basket-shaped rosette of long fronds trap falling twigs and leaf litter - can be up to 2m in diameter, and large ferns can contain substantial quantities of organic matter.At the base of the fern is a sponge-like root mass that soaks up rain water and absorbs nutrients released from the decaying litter.In Borneo, the rainforest canopy has approximately 50 Asplenium nidus per hectare. They grow on tree trunks and branches at heights of up to 60m above the ground.In one study, several large bird’s nest ferns were removed intact from the canopy and lowered to the ground using winches, ropes and pulleys, and were found to weight between 170 and 200kg.
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Comprehensive Description

Biology

Asplenium nidus was first described by the great naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1753.There are about 700 species in the genus Asplenium, and Asplenium nidus is one of several closely related and similar-looking species, which all have the common name bird’s nest fern. Because it can be difficult to tell apart some species of bird’s nest fern, they are often referred to as a ‘species complex’.The Asplenium nidus complex is distributed from east Africa and India, through south-east Asia and southern China to eastern Australia, Polynesia and Hawaii.This fern can grow on the ground but is more frequently found growing as an epiphyte on trees.The apple-green fronds can grow to a length of 150cm, and have a blackish midrib when mature. Long rows of sori (clusters of sporangia, within which the spores develop) form on the underside of the fronds.
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Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Indigenous to Hawaii. Found elsewhere in Polynesia, and in Africa (Valier 1995).

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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Perched in trees or on ground, up to 760m (Valier 1995).

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Canopy

Rainforest canopies are known to be rich in animal life. However, we are only just beginning to understand how bird’s nest ferns contribute to the structural complexity of the canopy, and how that in turn may help to support forest biodiversity.The ferns provide important feeding and nesting resources for many animal species that spend all or part of their lives in the canopy.The organic matter in the fern remains damp and is therefore a suitable refuge for many species that may not tolerate the harsher climatic conditions that occur in the canopy.When the outer fronds turn brown and die, they hang down forming a thick skirt below the fern - a second area within which more animals live.In Borneo, researchers found that 6 large ferns had an average of 41,000 invertebrates living in them. These included:
  • colonies of ants and termites
  • up to 15 other orders of insects
  • earthworms
  • spiders and scorpions
  • centipedes and millipedes
  • woodlice
  • snails
Amphibians, reptiles and small mammals such as squirrels and bats have also been recorded from bird’s nest ferns.Estimates suggest that a single large fern may contain as much invertebrate biomass (the weight of all the invertebrates) as found in the whole of the rest of the tree crown in which the fern grows. There are probably as many species living in the ferns as are found in a similar sized area of the forest floor.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Asplenium nidus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Asplenium nidus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 41
Specimens with Barcodes: 43
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Wikipedia

Asplenium nidus

See bird's-nest fern for other plants with this common name.

Asplenium nidus is an epiphytic species of fern in the family Aspleniaceae, native to tropical southeastern Asia, eastern Australia, Hawaii,[citation needed] Polynesia,[citation needed] Christmas Island,[citation needed] India,[citation needed] and eastern Africa. It is known by the common names bird's-nest fern[1][3] (a name shared by other aspleniums) or simply nest fern.[3]

Description[edit]

Asplenium nidus forms large simple fronds visually similar to banana leaves, with the fronds growing to 50–150 cm long and 10–20 cm broad. They are light green, often crinkled, with a black midrib, and exhibit circinate vernation. Spores develop in sori on the underside of the fronds. These sori form long rows extending out from the midrib on the back of the outer part of the lamina (frond). The fronds roll back as they brown and create a massive leaf nest in the branches and trunks of trees.

Native distribution[edit]

Birds nest ferns in tropical montane forest on Mount Manucoco, Atauro Island, East Timor

Asplenium nidus is native to east tropical Africa (in Tanzania, inclusive of the Zanzibar Archipelago); temperate and tropical Asia (in Indonesia; East Timor; the prefecture of Kyushu, and the Ryukyu Islands of Japan; Malaysia; the Philippines; Taiwan; and Thailand); and in Australasia (in the northern part of Queensland in Australia).[3]

Habitat[edit]

Asplenium nidus can survive either as an epiphytal, or terrestrial plant, but typically grows on organic matter. This fern often lives in palm trees or bromeliads, where it collects water and humus in its leaf-rosette.[citation needed] It thrives in warm, humid areas in partial to full shade.

Uses[edit]

A seedling of Asplenium nidus growing on a tree trunk

With a minimum temperature of 10 °C (50 °F), Asplenium nidus is widely cultivated in temperate regions as a houseplant.[4] Apparently, most plants sold in America as A. nidus are actually Asplenium australasicum, which has longer sori, and a differently shaped midrib.(R. J. Johns, in the 2001 Flora Malesiana Symposium)

Asplenium nidus has been used locally in folk medicine (to treat asthma, sores and weakness) and hygienically to treat halitosis.[5]

This plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[6]

The sprouts of A. nidus are eaten as a vegetable in Taiwan.[citation needed] In Taiwan this plant is called 山蘇 (pronounced shān sũ) and typically cut into inch length pieces and fried with garlic and chilli peppers.

Protection[edit]

In Hong Kong, this species is under protection based on Forestry Regulations Cap. 96A.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b  Asplenium nidus was first described and published in Species Plantarum 2: 1079. 1753. "Name - !Asplenium nidus L.". Tropicos. Saint Louis, Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved November 3, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Name - !Asplenium nidus L. synonyms". Tropicos. Saint Louis, Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved November 3, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c GRIN (April 14, 1995). "Asplenium nidus information from NPGS/GRIN". Taxonomy for Plants. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland: USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Retrieved November 3, 2011. 
  4. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964. 
  5. ^ James A. Duke. "Asplenium nidus (ASPLENIACEAE)". Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. Retrieved November 3, 2011. 
  6. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Asplenium nidus". Retrieved 5 June 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • (Portuguese) LORENZI, H.; SOUZA, M.S. (2001) Plantas Ornamentais no Brasil: arbustivas, herbáceas e trepadeiras. Plantarum ISBN 85-86714-12-7
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