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| Last Updated:: 09/01/2020

Medicinal Pteridophytes in the Western Ghats


Scientific Name



Acrostichum aureum Linn.



Rhizome paste is applied to heal the wounds and boils. It is also used as anthelmintic, vulnery, healing inveterate ulcers, and bladder complaints in China. Fertile fronds are used for syphilitic ulcers in Borneo. Fronds are used as an antifungal agent.

Actinopteris radiata (Sw.) Link


Plant is bitter having the properties like styptic, anthelmintic, astringent sweet, cooling, acrid and febrifuge. It is used in the treatment of severe conditions of kapha and pitta, diarrhoea, dysentery, helminthiasis, haemopstysis and fever.

Adiantum capillus veneris Linn.


It is used as stimulant, febrifuge, expectorant, purgative, demulcent, emollient tonic and hair tonic. It has anticancerous, hypoglycaemic, aphrodisiac, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.

Adiantum caudatum Linn.


Fronds extract is effective in wound healing.

Adiantum lunulatum Burm.


Leaf and root decoction is used for the treatment of chest complaints in Malaya.

Adiantum poiretii Wikstr


Leaves are used to cure coughs, fever, and diabetes and skin diseases in Philippines.

Angiopteris evecta (Forst.) Hoff.


Leaf extract is used in the treatment of dysentery. Spores are effective in the treatment of leprosy and other skin diseases.

Asplenium nidus Linn.


Rootstock is considered good for fever and elephantiasis. Used as an emollient, in cough and chest diseases. Leaf is smoked to cure cold.

Asplenium polydon G.Foster var bipinnatum (Sledge) Sledge.


Plant is used to promote parturition. Plant is anticancerous. The fresh crosiers paste prepared on granite is applied to the tumour.

Blechnum orientale Linn.


Fresh fronds are used as poultice for boils in Malaya; used for urinary bladder complaints in India and Polynesia;       diaphoretic,    and aromatic         in Philippines.  Rhizome is used as anthelmintic in China and as cure for intestinal wounds.

Botrychum lanuginosum Wall.ex Hook & Grev.


Plant is antidysentric and antibacterial.

Ceratopteris thalictroides (L) Brongn


Fronds are used as poultice in skin diseases; reported to be toxic and styptic.

Cheilanthes tenuifolia (Blume.f) Sw


Tribals use rhizome and root extracts as a general tonic.

Christella parasitica (L.) Lev.


It is used in the treatment of gout and rheumatism.

Alsophlla gigantea (Wall.ex Hook) Holtt.


Fronds are anti-inflammatory, rhizome is used against snakebite

Drynaria quercifolia (L.) J. Sm.


Rhizome is bitter, it is used as antibacterial, anodyne, constipating, antiinflammatory, tonic, in the treatment of typhoid fever, phthisis, dyspepsia, cough, arthralgia, cephalalgia, diarrhoea, ulcers and other inflammations. It is very specific in the treatment of migraine.

Pyrrosia heterophylla (L.) Price


Used as a cooling agent for the treatment of swellings, sprains, etc. and also for relieving pain.

Dryopteris cochleata (Ham ex D. Don) C. Chr.


Whole plant extract is given twice daily orally in case of snakebite. Plant paste is also applied on the bite wound to prevent infection. The rhizome is antibacterial and antiepileptic.

Equisetum ramosissimum Desr.


Powdered stem dissolved in water is used for enema during stomach disorders in children. Baren women drink   rhizome          decoction to facilitate fertilization in South Africa. Plant is known to have         diuretic, haemostatic,   haemorpritic,  antirheumatic, antifungal and antiviral properties. Paste of branches with leaves is used as local application for the treatment of fracture and the dislocation of bones.

Helminthostachys      zeylanica            (L.)      Hook.,


The fronds are reported to be anodyne, antiviral, antipyretic, antiinflammatory and intoxicant.

Parahemionitis           arifolia            (Burm.)           Moore


The fronds are used in the treatments of aches and as a vermifuge. Crushed juice is used in burns, menstrual disorders, as antifertility and antiflatulence agent. Rhizome has antibacterial property.

Hymenophyllum            javanicum       Spring


The local people smoke the dried plant mixed with garlic and onions to cure headache.

Hypodematium            crenatum        (Forssk.)            Kuhn.


Rhizome is used as an antibacterial agent. Leaves are used to facilitate conception in women.

Hypolepis glandulifera Brownsey et Chionnock.


The fronds are used for poultice for boils in Malaysia.

Isoetes coramandeliana L.f.


Plant gives out a melancholy fluid used by the Europeans in the treatment of spleen and liver diseases.

Leucostegia     immerse (Wall.            ex         Hook)  Presl.


Rhizome paste is applied on boils in Nepal. Rhizome is antibacterial and is also used in constipation.

Lygodium flexusoum (L.) Sw.


Plant is used as expectorant. Rhizome boiled with mustard oil is locally applied to carbuncle and in the treatment of rheumatism, sprains, scabies, ulcers, eczema and coughs.

Lygodium microphyllum (Cav.) R. Br.


Leaf decoction is given in dysentery. Leaf poultices are applied for skin diseases and swelling. Crushed leaves are used to cure hiccough.

Marattia fraxinea Sw.


Plant   extract            is         used    as a remedy           for ankylostomiasis in Usambara and South Africa.

Marsilea minuta Linn.


Plants are used in cough, spastic condition of leg, muscles, etc. and also in sedatum and insomnia. Plant is sweet, astringent, refrigerant, acrid, diuretic, emollient,    anodyne,  ophthalmic,    constipating, expectorant, aphrodisiac, depurative and febrifuge

Microsorum punctatum (L.) Copel.


Leaf and juice are used as purgative, diuretic and for healing wound.

Nephrolepis cordifolia (L.) Pr.


Rhizome is antibacterial and is used in cough, rheumatism, chest congestion, nose blockage and loss of appetites. Pinnae are antitussive, styptic, antifungal used in coughs, wounds and for the treatment of jaundice, fresh fronds decoction is given as a drink

Odontosoria chinensis (L.) J.Smith


Leaves are used internally for chronic enteritis in Mauritius.

Oleandra musifolia (Bl.) Presl.


A decoction of stipe is considered to be an emmenagogue; rhizome is used in snakebite in Philippines. Plant is also used as an anthelmintic.

Ophioglossum gramineum Willd.


Plant   yields  a          mucilaginous and            astringent decoction is used in angina. The fronds are considered toxic and styptic and are used in contusions, wounds and haemorrhages. Tribals use warm rhizome decoction as a lotion for boils.

Ophioglossum reticulatum Linn.


Used as a cooling agent and in the treatment of inflammations and wounds. Fronds are used as tonic and styptic. Used in contusions and haemorrhages.

Osmunda hugeliana Presl.



Fronds are used as tonic, styptic and also for the treatment of rickets, rheumatism and for intestinal gripping.

Phlebodium aureum (L.) J. Sm.


In Mexico, rhizome is used for the treatment of cough, fever and reported to be sudorific.

Pitryrogramma calomelanos (L.) Link.


Plant decoction is used for renal disorders in the Philippines. Tea prepared out of frond is used as a cure for hypertension, fever and cough in Trinidad. Rhizomes are considered anthelmintic in South Africa.

Pleopeltis macrocarpa (Bory ex Willd.) Kaulf.


Decoction of fronds is used for cold, sore throat and itches in South Africa. Rhizome is used as a febrifuge and for the treatment of coughs in Mexico and Guatemala.

Polystichum moluscens (Bl.) T. Moore


The sporophyll extract is an antibacterial agent.

Polystichum squarrosum (D. Don) Fee


The sporphyll extract is used as an antibacterial Agent.

Psilotum nudum (L.) P. Beauv


Oily spores are given to infants to arrest diarrhoea. Herb juice showed antibacterial activity against Miocrococcus pyogenes         and Pseudomonas nerugionsa and also used as a purgative.

Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn. v. Deck


Rhizome is astringent, anthelmintic and is useful in diarrhoea and for the treatment of inflammation in the gastric and intestinal mucous membranes. Decoction of rhizomes and fronds is given for chronic disorders of viscera and spleen.

Pteris cretica Linn.


Fronds are antibacterial; made into a paste is applied in wounds.

Pteris quadiaurita Retz.


Rhizome paste is applied to take out the pus and hasten the healing of boils.

Pteris vittata Linn.


Plant extract is used as demulcent, hypotensive, tonic, antiviral and antibacterial.

Pyrrosia lanceolata (L.) Farewell


Plant decoction is used in South Africa for curing colds and sore throats. In Mexico, a tea prepared from the fronds is used as itch guard.

Salvinia molesta Mitch.


Plant used as an antifungal agent.

Selaginella delicatula Desv. ex Poir.


Plant juice is antibacterial and is used for healing of wounds by the tribals at Nilambur.

Selaginella involvens (Sw.) Spring


Ladies use spore powder as a substitute to vermilion powder (Sindoor in Nepali language). Plant is considered to help to rejuvenate life, also used in the prolapse of rectum, prevents cough, bleeding piles, gravel amenorrhoea and as antibacterial.

Selaginella      radicata (Hook.            &         Grev.)  Spring


Fronds are used as antibacterial agent.

Sphaerostephanos unitus (L.) Holtt


Rhizome extract is used as antibacterial agent.


Stenochlaena palustris (Burm. f.) Bedd.


Fronds are antibacterial, given for the treatment of fever, skin diseases, throat and gastric ulcers. Leaves and rhizomes are used as cooling agent and in the treatment of burns and ulcers.

Tectaria coadunata (J.Sm.) C. Chr.


Plant is antibacterial; used in asthma, bronchitis, stings of honeybee. Fresh rhizome extract is used for preventing diarrhoea in children in Darjeeling district.

Tectaria wightii (Clarke) Ching


Rhizome is anthelmintic

Trignospora caudipinna (Ching) Sledge


Rhizome juice (about 3 teaspoonfuls thrice a day) is given in case of fever by Nepalese.

Vittaria elongata Sw.


Tribals of Andaman Islands use leaves of this fern for the treatment of rheumatism.


(Source: Medicinal Pteridophytes from the Western Ghats, Benjamin A & Manickam V S, Centre for Biodiversity and Biotechnology, St Xavier's College (Autonomous), Palayamkottai, TamilNadu, Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge Vol. 6(4), October 2007, pp. 611-618)