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Filicium decipiens


Filicium decipiens

Family Name: Sapindaceae
Common Name: Fern Tree, Fern-leaf Tree, Kiora Payung


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Medium (16m-30m))
Maximum Height 30 m


Native Distribution Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Comoro Islands, India and Sri Lanka
Native Habitat Terrestrial

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a tree, up to 30 m tall with smooth whitish bark.
Foliage Leaves are glossy, alternately arranged, with 5-10 pairs of leaflets. Leaflets are lanceolate to linear or narrowly oblong – elliptic (5 – 16 cm long and 0.5 – 4 cm wide) with entire yet curled wavy margin. There are about 30 – 50 pairs of tertiary venation present but faint. Petiole is about 1.5 – 11 cm long and winged. Rachis is about 15 – 30 cm long and winged on both sides (up to 1 cm wide).
Flowers Inflorescence often occurs axillary and is narrowly paniculate (6 – 20 cm long). Inflorescence comprises of both male and female flowers, which appears to be separated in time. Both male and female flowers have 5 sepals and 5 yellow petals (1.3 mm long). Male flowers have 5 protruding stamens and rudimentary ovary, while female flowers have non-protruding stamens, unopened anthers and globose ovary which is covered in dense white hairs. Ovary has 2 ovules but usually only one developing.
Fruit Fruit is elliptical or drupe shaped (about 10 mm long and 6 – 8 mm wide) with persistent stype and reflexed sepals. Fruit turns shiny purple when mature and contains one seed within.
Habitat It is found in forest near river valleys, up to 1600 m altitude.
Etymology The genus Filicium comes from the Latin filix meaning fern. It refers to the foliage of the tree resembling fern fronds. The species epithet decipiens means "deceptive", alluding to the deceptive nature of the leaves in resembling fern fronds.

Landscaping Features

Landscape Uses Suitable for Roadsides

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.0 (Tree - Dense Canopy)


References Adema, F., Leenhouts, P.W & van Welzen, P.C. 1994. Sapindaceae. Flora Malesiana Series I. 11 (3). 419 – 768

Davies, F.G & Verdcourt, B.. 1998. Flora of Tropical East Africa - Sapindaceae. CRC Press. 552

Image Repository



Master ID 1625
Species ID 2918
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 18 February 2022.