Singapore Government Logo

A Singapore Government Agency Website

Nephrolepis acutifolia


Nephrolepis acutifolia (Desv.) Christ

Family Name: Nephrolepidaceae
Synonyms: Lindsaea acutifolia Desv.
Common Name: Paku Uban Bukit

Nephrolepis acutifolia or Paku Uban Bukit is a native fern that grows terrestrially or as an epiphyte. Fronds are long, drooping of up to 1.5 m or more. The leaflets (pinnae) are linear to lance-shaped with a short broad tip and smooth margins. The base of the leaflet are boxy, heart-shaped to rounded, ear-like lobes may be present. Unlike most Nephrolepis species which produce kidney-shaped sori on the underside of the leaflet, this species produce linear sori along the margins.


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

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Ferns & Allies (Non-Seed Vascular Plants) (Fern)
Plant Growth Form Herbaceous Plant
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Weeping / Pendulous
Maximum Height 1.5 m


Native Distribution Cameroon to Kenya and Mozambique, West Indian Ocean, Thailand to Pacific Islands
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Secondary Rainforest, Coastal Forest, Freshwater Swamp Forest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Critically Endangered (CR))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a fern that can grow terrestrially or as an epiphyte. It produce creeping rhizomes densely packed with scales.
Foliage Its long drooping fronds measures up to 1.5 m or more. Each leaflet (pinnae) is linear to lance-shaped with a short broad tip with smooth margins. The base is boxy or heart-shaped to round base, irregular ear-like lobes may be observed. The stalk (stipe) is dark brown coloured, densely covered in scales measuring between 15 - 18 cm long. Scales are brown, woolly, found along the stalk, midrib and underside of the leaflet.
Reproductive Parts - non-flowering plant Sori are produced along the margins on both sides of the leaflets, covered with a protective membrane.
Habitat Occurs at low elevations (sea level up to 200 m). Usually epiphytic, also often on trees and palms and coastal vegetation (on mangroves) and cliff faces.
Cultivation It prefers shallow and well drained media. Propagation can be done by spores or stolons.
Etymology Its genus, Nephrolepis translates to 'kidney-scale' in Greek, in reference to the shape of the indusia (an outgrowth from the frond that serves as a protective covering for the sporangia) of the sori. The species acutifolia translates to 'acute leaves' in Latin, referring to the leaf blades.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Shallow Media (8 -10cm), Well-Drained Soils, Moist Soils
Landscape Uses Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens, Hanging Basket

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water, Occasional Misting
Plant Growth Rate Fast to Moderate
Propagation Method Spore, Stolon / Runner


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Type Compound
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Basal
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Foliar Base Cordate, Truncate / Square, Rounded / Obtuse

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Herbaceous
Root Type Underground (Fibrous Root)
Specialised Storage Organ(s)


References Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (continuously updated). Plants of the World Online | Kew Science. Accessed 13 July 2022.

Hovenkamp, P.H. & Miyamoto, F. (2012). Nephrolepidaceae. Flora Malesiana - Series II, Vol. 4, pp. 97 - 122. National Herbarium of the Netherlands Leiden

Image Repository



Master ID 257
Species ID 1553
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: 09 February 2023.