The fronds are forked, with new branches
emerging at the junction of the fork. Resam belongs to a family of ferns
that is considered somewhat primitive.
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.
and wetland wildlife at
Sungei Buloh Nature Park
features: Forms a thicket up to 2m tall.
Fronds: Fronds develop paired branches
Status in Singapore: Common
Classification: Family Gleicheniaceae.
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 (New Guinea).
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.
- Ivan Polunin,
"Plants and Flowers of Singapore", Times Editions,
1987 (p. 42: description, habitat, distribution, photo).
- Wee Yeow Chin,
"A Guide to Medicinal Plants", Singapore Science Centre,
1992 (p. 24: description, chemical compounds, uses).
- Dr Wee Yeow Chin,
"A Guide to the Ferns of Singapore", Singapore Science Centre,
1983 (p. 43-44: habit of forming impenetrable thickets).
- Dr E Soepadmo
(ed.), "The Encyclopedia of Malaysia: Plants", Ferns
and Fern Allies by Wee Yeow Chin, Editions Didier Millet, 1998 (p. 44: