Ceratopteris thalictroides
Ceratopteris thalictroides.JPG
Ceratopteris thalictroides, showing typical above-water foliage
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Division: Polypodiophyta
Class: Polypodiopsida
Order: Polypodiales
Family: Pteridaceae
Genus: Ceratopteris
C. thalictroides
Binomial name
Ceratopteris thalictroides
(L.) Brongniart

Ceratopteris thalictroides is a fern species belonging to the genus Ceratopteris, one of only two genera of the subfamily Parkerioideae of the family Pteridaceae.[2]

Common names

Ceratopteris thalictroides is commonly known as water sprite, Indian fern, water fern, oriental waterfern, and water hornfern. In the Philippines, it is called pakung-sungay (literally 'antler fern' or 'horn fern').[3][4]


Ceratopteris thalictroides is widespread across tropical regions.[4][5]


Rooted in mud, Ceratopteris thalictroides plants vary in size and appearance. The stipes of mature plants are 3mm-15mm in diameter, spongy, and air-filled with 4cm-60 cm long including its stipe.

Pale green, brown when matured, fertile fronds are 15cm-100cm or more including the stipe to 40 cm long. Proliferous or dormant buds with their overlapping dark scales present in the axils of fertile pinnae are winged. Pinnae are deeply incised with segments 2-15mm x 10-30 mm and the fertile segments 1-2mm x 10-80mm.[6]

In the north type and the third type, the count of chromosomes is 2n=126 while in the south type its 2n=154, making it separate from species.[7]


Ceratopteris thalictroides is often found near stagnant water or in still pockets along slow flowing rivers in swampy areas, swamp forests, sago swamps, marshes, natural and man-made ponds. The plant thrives in full sun to moderate shade, from sea level to 1300 meters in elevation, but mostly less than 500 meter in elevation. Ceratopteris thalictroides is often massed on or around logs or other floating vegetation. The plant was once recorded in a fresh-water mangrove (Sonneratia) growing among the finger-like pneumatophores. In some areas, Ceratopteris exhibits a degree of seasonality, reaching maturity and shedding spores during the dry season; plants have lost nearly all sterile fronds by this stage.[6] The species has been reported to functionally be an annual, repopulating from spores the next season, but it is clearly of indefinite lifespan in cultivation.[citation needed]



Fronds are cooked and eaten as a vegetable in Madagascar,[4]New Guinea[citation needed], and Vietnam,[8] and raw as a salad in Micronesia.[citation needed]. It has been used similarly to watercress.[4] In Malaysia and Japan, uncurled fronds have been used in salads.[4] However, the plant is believed to contain carcinogenic chemicals.[citation needed]


Ceratopteris thalictroides is widely used as an aquarium plant,[4] and is prized for its versatility, being used both as a floating plant and a plant that can be rooted in the substrate.[9]

The plant can be used as manure for rice.[4]

Ceratopteris thalictroides is used medicinally as a poultice for dermatological issues in Malaysia and the Philippines.[4] In China, it's applied to wounds to stop bleeding.[4]

In the Sepik region of New Guinea, fronds are used as a personal decoration.[citation needed]


It grows best in soil with a pH reading of 5-9 and in very high amounts of light. It usually grows quickly.

Ceratopteris thalictroides can benefit (like all aquatic plants) from the addition of CO2. The plant's reproductive technique is similar to other ferns. Small adventitious plantlets are grown on the mother plant and are then released when ready.

It can provide useful shade to shyer fish and small fry. The dense roots are said to take nutrients out of the water helping to prevent the growth of algae.

See also


  1. ^ Irudayaraj, V.; Lansdown, R.V. (2019). "Ceratopteris thalictroides". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2019: e.T168862A84005839. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-2.RLTS.T168862A84005839.en. Retrieved 18 November 2021.
  2. ^ PPG I (2016), "A community-derived classification for extant lycophytes and ferns", Journal of Systematics and Evolution, 54 (6): 563–603, doi:10.1111/jse.12229, S2CID 39980610
  3. ^ Amoroso, Victor (2007). "Pteridophyte and gymnosperm diversity in Musuan, Bukidnon" (PDF). Philippine Journal of Systematic Biology. 1: 1–14. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-07-12. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Vegetables. G. J. H. Grubben, Plant Resources of Tropical Africa. Wageningen, Netherlands: Backhuys. 2004. pp. 173–175. ISBN 90-5782-147-8. OCLC 57724930. Archived from the original on 2020-06-26. Retrieved 2021-07-01.CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ Irudayaraj, V; Lansdown, R.V. "Ceratopteris thalictroides. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Archived from the original on 3 June 2021. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  6. ^ a b Ceratopteris thalictroides Archived 2007-11-05 at the Wayback Machine in Australian National Herbarium
  7. ^ Liao, Yi-Ying; Yang, Xing-Yu; Motley, Timothy J.; Chen, Jin-Ming; Wang, Qing-Feng (2011-07-12). "Phylogeographic analysis reveals two cryptic species of the endangered fern Ceratopteris thalictroides (L.) Brongn. (Parkeriaceae) in China". Conservation Genetics. 12 (5): 1357–1365. doi:10.1007/s10592-011-0236-7. ISSN 1566-0621. Archived from the original on 2021-07-01. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  8. ^ Tanaka, Yoshitaka; Van Ke, Nguyen (2007). Edible Wild Plants of Vietnam: The Bountiful Garden. Thailand: Orchid Press. p. 108. ISBN 978-9745240896.
  9. ^ James, Barry (1997). A fishkeeper's guide to aquarium plants (Rev ed.). Blacksburg, VA: Tetra Press. ISBN 1-56465-173-8. OCLC 39143686. Archived from the original on 2021-07-01. Retrieved 2021-07-01.

External links