Ferns are easily distinguished from other plants by the fact that they are non-flowering plants which do not produce fruits not seeds , and they reproduce by spores. They can be of various sizes and can grow on the soil, on plants as well as on rocks. They are also very interesting plants due to the new leaves which typically expand by the unrolling of a light spiral, the different pattern and designs of the leaves as well as the patterns of the sporangia at the end, surface or sides of the leaf (often referred to as frond) which differs according to the fern species.
Ferns are not as important economically but in the jungle, the play an important role as a thick ground cover, preventing erosion and invade areas where trees have fallen. Some ferns are edible by humans either raw or cooked, some used as traditional medicine while other fern plants and trees are used for landscape and decorative purposes.
In Malaysia this fern grows wild and is commonly known as Tunjuk langit. This herbaceous fern bears either a solitary frond or several fronds which are lanceolate with the margins entire or irregularly serrate. Its rhizome is considered as medicinal. The young frond are eaten as vegetable
Paku miding (Stenochlaena palustris)
This long creeping or climbing epiphyte with base rooted to the ground in also known as Paku miding. It grows wild and is commonly found in rubber plantations. The fronds are horizontal, with drooping pinnae and stipe. Leaves are lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate. The rhizome 5-7 mm diameter, pale green, smooth, with scattered dark, small, orbicular scales and the growing tip completely covered. The young leaves are deep red and eaten by locals as a vegetable.
Tanduk Rusa (Platyceriun coronarium)
This epiphyte fern commonly known as Staghorn Fern is an immense cluster which grows hanging onto branches of high trees in the jungle. The plant has two kinds of leaves. The nest leaves are erect, with thickened base and are dichotomously lobed, whereas the frond s are pendulous up to 2 or 3 metres long, green with several widely forked , narrow lobes shaped like the horn of the stag.This fern grows wild in Malaysia but is now cultivated as an ornamental plant.
Resam (Dicranopteris linearis)
Resam is a vigorous creeping ground fern with long stems and slender rhizomes, usually found on edge of disturbed areas, on slopes and primary forest. The leaves are branched with brown sori on the underside. In the olden days, the stem was used as a pen to write.
Paku Sungai (Diplazium esculentum)
This fern is found growing on wet ground and along stream banks and therefore is commonly known as Paku Sungai. It is a terrestrial fern up to 1 metre tall, with erect and scaly rhizomes. The stalk is about 35cm long. The leaves are bipinnate and leaflets are variable in size and the margin is crenate or lobed. The sori lines the entire length of the veins. The young leaves are edible and are in fact a favourite vegetable.