Family: Schizaeaceae
Synonyms:Hydroglossum dissectum, Hydroglossum japonicum, Lygodium chaerophylloides, Lygodium chochinchinense, Lygodium dissectum, Lygodium mearnsii, Lygodium microphyllum, Lygodium microstachyum. Lygodium pubescens, Lygodium tenue, Ophioglossum japonicum.
Common Name:  Vine-like fern, Japanese Climbing Fern
Local Name: Fern -bel (फ़र्न  वेल)

Fern -bel is a slender, deciduous, climbing vine of family Schizaeaceae. It is easily recognized by its wide-creeping rhizome and elongated climbing rachis   which bears a dense foliage of fronds. Fern -bel is commonly seen growing  in moist, swampy habitat, roadside, pathways, especially in disturbed areas where it is found twining around other plants for support.  Fern -bel has the capacity of indefinite growth. forming a dense mat that smother understory vegetation, shrubs and trees. It usually grows well in the shady moist habitat climbing on other plants to fetch sunny position. In Western Himalayas Fern -bel is found growing up to an altitude of 2600 metres.  It propagates either by spores or rhizome divisions.  It can be grown as an ornamental by planting of rhizome division.

Fern -bel is locally recognized as a medicinal plant and often taken as decoction to strengthen the functioning of kidney and urinary tract. Young fronds of Fern -bel are also edible and eaten cooked in many parts of the world including eastern states of India 1,2,3,4.Where people consume these as vegetable. However, local people in Western Himalayas hardly use Fern -bel as a food plant. Owing to its luxuriant growth and rich medicinal value it can be taken either as a tonic tea or food supplement in various traditional and modern dishes of this region. Young fronds can be an excellent addition to dishes like kachuri, chilla (kachru), parantha, pakoras, pasta, poha, omellete etc.

Fern -bel  Plant:

It is a very slender, twining fern growing from 1 to 3 meters in length,

A perennial climbing vine arising from rhizomes.

Vines are thin, wiry, green to orange to black and usually die back in the winter.

Bear the dwarfed branches 2 to 4 millimeters long.

The fronds (leaves of a fern) are opposite, compound, usually triangular in shape, 3-6 in. (8-15 cm) long, 2-3 in. (5-8 cm) wide and finely dissected.Fronds are of 2 kinds (dimorphic). Sterile pinnae are 8 to 15 centimeters long, rarely longer, 2 to 4 millimeters wide. Pinnules (leaflets) are 2 to 5 centimeters on each side, the upper ones simple, sessile, often subconfluent, entire, the intermediate ones somewhat hastate and the lowest one stalked, pinnate or bipinnate (twice pinnate), all oblong to linear, 1.5 to 8 centimeters long, tripinnate, the segments relatively broader and shorter.

Spikes (site of the fruiting bodies) are 1 to 6 millimeters long.

Spores are verruculose.

Young fronds of Fern bel are best harvested from pre –spring season to late rainy season for edible purposes.

Edible Uses:



Young leaves of fern-bel exclusively or with other wild potherbs, 300-500g; medium sized potatoes, 4-5; mustard oil, 2 table spoons; coriander powder 1 table spoon; fenugreek powder, ½ table spoon; cumin seed ¼ table spoon; turmeric powder, 1/4 table spoon; red chilies, 2-3; chopped onions 2-4; garlic, 4-5 cloves; ginger paste ½ table spoon and salt according to taste.


Sauté finely chopped leaves in hot mustard oil  with chopped potato and spices listed before in sequence. Cook till they are soft. Garnish with garam masala and serve hot with  chapatti.



Fresh fern-bel  leaves ,250 g; besan (black gram flour) or corn flour, 500g ; mustard oil, 10-12 table spoon; 1 cup fresh coriander plus curry and mint leaves (chopped), 5-6 green chilies, ½ table spoon turmeric powder, 2-3 medium sized chopped onions, 2-3 medium sized finely chopped potato and salt according to taste.


Make a paste of leaves, chopped potatoes, basen and spices listed above. Mix well and make small ball of this paste. Put mustard oil in a fry pan and give these balls a deep fry.Repeat this process till whole paste is over. Pakoras are now ready to serve. Serve these hot with chutney or tomato-ketchup.

Kachru or sosaru:

Kachru is a traditional dish of Western Himalaya cooked as chilla with spices and basen or corn flour. It is served as a evening snack with tea/ chutney/tomato ketch-up.


For preparing a kachru, ingredients required are 1kg fresh leaves, 1/2 kg besan (black gram powder) or corn flour. 1 cup amount fresh coriander leaves,1/2 table spoon ajwain, 3-5 green chillies, ½ table spoon turmeric powder, 2-3 chopped onions and salt according to taste


Make a paste of leaves, besan or corn flour and spices. Heat some oil on a flat heating pan. Put this paste over a pan and cook for 15 to 20 minutes then kachru will be ready to serve.



Young fronds of fern bel, 5-6g; water, 2 cup amount; sugar, 2 table spoons; lemon juice, 2 tea spoons.


Dice leaves and boil with water. Add sugar to it and simmer in low flame for 10 minutes. Strain into tea cups. Add lemon juice to each and serve hot.

Medicinal Uses:

Locally Fern -belleaves decoction is taken to strengthen the functioning of kidney and urinary tract. Recent studies shows that Fern -bel is anti-bacterial, anti-oxident, sweet tasting, refrigerant; antifebrile and diuretix. So

, it is widely used as expectorant, cathartic, diuretic, anti-urolithiatic and aids lymphatic circulation 5,6,7.8.

The tribal people of Nagaland in India, apply the plant paste on eczema, ringworm and wounds. Its crushed leaves are used in treatment of fresh cuts and wounds9.

In Chinese traditional medicine, spores are used for treatment of various inflammatory diseases 8. Its crushed leaves used to treat hepatitis and dysenter 9. For centuries, used for treatment of gorge gall, eczema, enteritis, nephritis, dropsy, urinary tract infection and stones 10. North American Indians use Hair washes derived from  fern= bel (L. japonicum and Yucca) for treatment of hair loss and thinning 11. Whole plant is considered medicinal. Its juice is applied in wound, boils and scabies, and the paste of the plant is applied to treat joints pain 12,13.14. The spores are reported to help kidney and urinary functions; reduce swelling, colds, fever and ease cough and congestion etc. They are also reported to work  as an anti-gonorrhoeal agent and  used as a general blood tonic 15

Phytochemical in Plant:

Ethanol extract of this plant shows presence of polyphenols, terpenoids, glycosides, saponins, flavonoids, and reducing sugar 9.

Other Uses:

Green foliage of Fern -belis is used as fodder. Stem is used as tying material for tying fodder. Splints prepared from the stems are used in the manufacture of baskets, hats, and fancy boxes 16. The splints can be combined with buri (Corypha spp.) or some other fibre to make various fancy articles such as cigarette cases or pocketbook16.


  1. Sen A, Ghosh PD (2011) A note on the ethnobotanical studies of some pteridophytes in Assam. Indian J Tradit Knowl 10(2):292–295
  2. Joshi N, Siwakoti M. 2012. Wild Vegetables Used by Local Community of Makawanpur District and Their Contribution to Food Security and Income Generation. Nepal Journal of Science and Technology 13(1):59-66.
  3. Joshi N, Kehlenbeck K, Maass BL. 2007. Traditional, neglected vegetables of Nepal: Their sustainable utilization for meeting human needs. Conference on International Agricultural Research for Development.
  4. Giri, P., & Uniyal, P. L. (2022). Edible ferns in India and their medicinal uses: A review. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, India Section B: Biological Sciences92(1), 17-25.
  5. Matsuda, H., Yamazaki, M., Naruto, S., Asanuma, Y., & Kubo, M. (2002). Anti-androgenic and hair growth promoting activities of Lygodii spora (Spore of Lygodium japonicum) I. Active constituents inhibiting testosterone 5α-reductase. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin25(5), 622-626.
  6. Li, X., Zhou, A., & Han, Y. (2006). Anti-oxidation and anti-microorganism activities of purification polysaccharide from Lygodium japonicum in vitro. Carbohydrate Polymers66(1), 34-42.
  7. Gou, J., Zou, Y., & Ahn, J. (2011). Enhancement of antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of Dianthus superbus, Polygonum aviculare, Sophora flavescens, and Lygodium japonicum by pressure-assisted water extraction. Food Science and Biotechnology20, 283-287.
  8. Cho, Y. C., Kim, B. R., Le, H. T. T., & Cho, S. (2017). Anti‑inflammatory effects on murine macrophages of ethanol extracts of Lygodium japonicum spores via inhibition of NF‑κB and p38. Molecular Medicine Reports16(4), 4362-4370.
  9. Subba,B., Sharma,A., Budhathoki, (2016); A Assessment of phytochemical content, antioxidant and antibacterial activities of three medicinal plants of Nepal. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research. 10(45): pp 829-837/
  10. Baskaran, X. R., Geo Vigila, A. V., Zhang, S. Z., Feng, S. X., & Liao, W. B. (2018). A review of the use of pteridophytes for treating human ailments. Journal of Zhejiang University-Science B19(2), 85-119.
  11. Verret, D. J. (2009). Patient Guide to Hair Loss & Hair Restoration. DJ Verret.
  12. Luitel DR, Rokaya MB, Timsina B, Münzbergová Z. 2014. Medicinal plants used by the Tamang community in the Makawanpur district of central Nepal. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 10(1):1-11.
  13. Malla B, Gauchan DP, Chhetri RB. 2015. An ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used by ethnic people in Parbat district of Western Nepal. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 165:103-117.
  14. Manandhar NP. 1995a. An inventory of some herbal drugs of Myagdi district, Nepal. Economic Botany 49(4):371-379.
  16. Brown, W. H. (1920). Minor products of Philippine forests. Bureau of Public Printing..

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