We saw this particular bird nest fern at the entrance of Sarawak Cultural Village. It was huge!

The genus name is asplenium (Spleenwort) nidus. ‘Spleen’ refers to the medicinal properties the plant is supposed to have. ‘Nidus’ means ‘a nest’.

The leathery, pale green, wavy-edged fronds of this fern are borne in a tight rosette at the rhizome, forming a bowl-shaped clump with a fibrous center, which many resembles a bird’s nest. As the fronds age, they have a prominent blackish midrib. It is propagated by division or by spores. The plants should be kept moist at all times.

Usage and potential
Food: The Bird’s Nest Fern is non-poisonous and is occasionally eaten by aboriginal tribe in Malaysia.
Medicine: The Malay used a decoction of the leaves to ease labour pains in childbirth and also to obtain a lotion to treat fever.
Other uses: The fern is now commonly grown for garden landscaping, either placed in trees as naturally found or on the ground as a garden plant. The plant is also used in flower arrangements with the whole plant or cut leaves used to enhance the arrangement.

Extracts from Lee-Khoo, Guan Fong National Library Board Singapore 2004

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