Asplenium nidus

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

Asplenium nidus

Secure (NatureServe)
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Class: Polypodiopsida
Order: Polypodiales
Suborder: Aspleniineae
Family: Aspleniaceae
Genus: Asplenium
A. nidus
Binomial name
Asplenium nidus
  • Asplenium antiquum Makino
  • A. australasicum (J.Sm.) Hook.
  • A. ficifolium Goldm.
  • Neottopteris mauritiana Fée
  • N. musaefolia J.Sm.
  • N. nidus (L.) J.Sm.
  • N. rigida Fée
  • Thamnopteris nidus (L.) C.Presl

Asplenium nidus is an epiphytic species of fern in the family Aspleniaceae, native to tropical southeastern Asia, eastern Australia, Hawaii,[3] Polynesia,[4] Christmas Island,[5] India,[6] and eastern Africa. It is known by the common names bird's-nest fern[1][7] (a name shared by other aspleniums) or simply nest fern.[7]

A 2015 molecular study found that Asplenium nidus is polyphyletic, meaning that some populations were not closely related to others—A. nidus from Madagascar, Vanuatu and New Guinea were more closely related to other species than each other. Hence a revision with sampling of the species across its range was required to delineate the taxon and identify cryptic species.[8]


Asplenium nidus forms large simple fronds visually similar to banana leaves, with the fronds growing to 50–150 centimetres (20–59 in) long and 10–20 centimetres (3.9–7.9 in) 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]

Bird's 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).[7]


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.[9] It thrives in warm, humid areas in partial to full shade. It dislikes direct sunlight and likes to be in full shade on the north facing garden wall. [10]


Asplenium nidus in Malaysia
A small 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.[11] However, many plants sold in America as A. nidus are actually Asplenium australasicum, which has longer sori, and a differently shaped midrib.[12] Asplenium nidus has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[13]

Asplenium nidus has been used locally in folk medicine for asthma, sores, weakness, and halitosis.[14]

The sprouts of A. nidus are eaten as a vegetable in Taiwan[citation needed] where it is called 山蘇 (pronounced shān sũ) and typically cut into inch-long pieces and sautéed with garlic and chilli peppers.


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


  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. ^ NPS. "Kapahulu Coastal Strand" (PDF). Haleakalā National Park Plant Communities. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  4. ^ MacDonald, Elvin "The World Book of House Plants" pp.264 Popular Books
  5. ^ MacDonald, Elvin "The World Book of House Plants" pp.263 Popular Books
  6. ^ Chandra, S.; Fraser-Jenkins, C.R.; Kumari, A. & Srivastava, A. "A Summary of the Status of Threatened Pteridophytes of India. Taiwania, 53(2): 170-209, 2008" (PDF). Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c "Asplenium nidus". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved November 3, 2011.
  8. ^ Ohlsen DJ, Perrie LR, Shepherd LD, Brownsey PJ, Bayly MJ (2015). "Phylogeny of the fern family Aspleniaceae in Australasia and the south-western Pacific". Australian Systematic Botany. 27 (6): 355–71. doi:10.1071/sb14043.
  9. ^ MacDonald, Elvin "The World Book of House Plants" pp.264 Popular Books
  10. ^ "Bird's Nest Fern". Our House Plants.
  11. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1405332965.
  12. ^ R. J. Johns, in the 2001 Flora Malesiana Symposium[full citation needed]
  13. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Asplenium nidus". Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  14. ^ James A. Duke. "Asplenium nidus (ASPLENIACEAE)". Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. Retrieved December 24, 2017.

Further reading[edit]

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

External links[edit]