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Phlegmariurus phlegmaria


Phlegmariurus phlegmaria (L.) T.Sen & U.Sen

Family Name: Lycopodiaceae
Synonyms: Huperzia phlegmaria (L.) Rothm., Lycopodium phlegmaria L.
Common Name: Common Tassel Fern, Coarse Tassel Fern, Queensland Tassel-fern, Coarse Clubmoss, Kumpai Rantai, 垂枝石松


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

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Ferns & Lycophytes (Non-Seed Vascular Plants) (Fern)
Plant Growth Form Epiphyte
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Irregular
Maximum Height 0.6 m to 0.8 m


Native Distribution Tropical Africa, Western Indian Ocean (Comoros, Madagascar), Sri Lanka, Southern China (Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Yunnan), Taiwan, Japan (Kyushu, Ryukyu Islands), Indochina, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia (Queensland), New Zealand, Western Pacific (Guam, Micronesia, Fiji)
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Monsoon Forest, Temperate Forest, Mountain)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal, Temperate
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Endangered (EN))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form A type of fir clubmoss, one of the oldest "living fossils" of fern-allies, with fossils dating back to the Carboniferous period (~360 million years ago). Herbaceous, with short creeping rhizomes, pendulous and trailing up to 75cm. Usually epiphytic, sometimes lithophytic or terrestrial. Fairly variable species, specimens from different regions can vary widely in size.
Foliage Fronds trailing or arched, with bifurcating branching. Young fronds initially upright, but get pulled down by their own weight. Stems thin (4mm across), brownish when older. Frondlets pale green, lanceolate and flat, whorled at 90° along stem axis. Bulblets (gemmae) formed at base of upper fronds during end of each annual growth cycle.
Others - Plant Morphology Fertile Fronds: Fertile sections pendulous and strobiliform, distinctly differentiated from sterile foliage, 1-3 times dichotomously forked, with tiny overlapping ovate sporophylls, which contain spores that are ferilized in water.Propagation: Propagate by modfied form of stem cuttings, layering, bulbets (which fall to ground when mature, and sprout to form new plants), and spores. For stem cuttings, remove apical sections (5-15cm) from stock plant, lay horizontally on well-drained soilless media, and cover cut ends with moist media -- this can be done inside terrariums to maintain humidity. Upward-turning shoot tips are ideal for stem cuttings. Simple layering of stems from rooted plants are said to be much easier to root. New shoots should emerge from the cutting mix in 6-15 months, and can be potted up when they reach 5cm height. Recently-potted plants should be left undisturbed to aid establishment.
Habitat Found on mossy trees and rocks in lowland to lower montane forests.
Cultivation Reportedly second-easiest Huperzia species to "domesticate" (after Huperzia squarrosa). Prefers bright shade for good growth -- avoid exposing to full sun. Does not tolerate normal soil -- use well-drained, well-aerated but moisture-retaining soilless media such as a mixture of coconut fibre, charcoal and sphagnum moss. Likes high humidity, withstands some amount of dryness but not prolonged drought. Provide good air circulation to minimize pest attack, eg. infestation by scale insects (especially fern scales). Does not take transplanting well -- specimens should be installed at final site.
Ethnobotanical Uses Food (Herb or Spice)
Others: Dried plant smoked and fresh leaves used in infusion as tonic or fortifier. Used as substitute for Cannibis sativa in Madagascar.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage
Landscape Uses Suitable for Hanging Baskets, Interiorscape/ Indoor Plant, Vertical Greenery / Green Wall, Container Planting
Thematic Landscaping Naturalistic Garden
SGMP Treatment

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade, Full Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water, Lots of Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Well-Drained Soils, Poor Infertile Soils, Shallow Media
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Potential Problems Tips of young shoots may be eaten by snails and slugs.
Pest(s) Chewing Insects
Propagation Method Stem Cutting, Storage Organ (Rhizome), Division, Air-Layering, Spore, Aerial Bulbil


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Thin
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Spiral
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Lanceolate)
Foliar Venation Parallel
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acuminate
Typical Foliar Area Microphyll ( 2.25cm2 - 20.25 cm2 )

Non - Foliar and Storage

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

Image Repository



Master ID 29437
Species ID 3746
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: 04 April 2023.